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American Medical Student Association (AMSA)

MARCH 27, 2006
10:12 AM

CONTACT:  American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
Molly O’Gorman Phone: (703) 620-6600, ext. 207

US Medical Students Stand In Solidarity with Thais In Response To Abbott Laboratories' Withholding Essential Medications

Reston, VA - The American Medical Student Association (AMSA) calls for widespread support of Thai patients, physicians and activists in response to Abbott Laboratories’ recent refusal to provide life-saving medications in Thailand. Abbott’s unprecedented decision abandons patients with life-threatening illnesses and violates the right to health. AMSA believes that Abbott should provide universal access to its essential medicines rather than prevent vital treatment.

Yesterday, March 26, 2007, AMSA stood in solidarity with Thai colleagues in their national day of action protesting Abbott's alarming decision. AMSA encourages future and current US healthcare professionals to boycott visits and telephone calls from representatives of Abbott until the company supplies all withdrawn medicines to Thai markets. AMSA calls on its physician colleagues to shut the door on Abbott as Abbott has shut the door on patients in Thailand.

"Abbott’s actions threaten patient lives and to our knowledge, no pharmaceutical company has withdrawn AIDS medicines in retaliation to a movement toward universal access to healthcare,” said Laura Frye, AMSA Global AIDS Fellow.  "AMSA strongly supports the legal rights of the Thai government to protect their citizens and their access to affordable medicines, and we condemn Abbott for refusing to provide life-saving medications.”  

Medical students across the nation are uniting in support of the Thai government. Representing over 68,000 physicians-in-training, AMSA sends the message to Abbott that patients’ welfare is the priority of healthcare professionals. “We must send a clear message to Abbott and other pharmaceutical companies that access to affordable medications is a human right and that patients deserve the opportunity to receive the same treatment available in developed countries,” said Frye.

Last year, in an effort to offset the prohibitive costs of AIDS medicines, Thailand issued a compulsory license in an attempt to manufacture an inexpensive generic version of Abbott’s Kaletra. In response, Abbott prevented access in Thailand to the heat-stable version of Kaletra that is available to US patients as well as to other life-saving medication, including antibiotics. AMSA strongly affirms the Thai government's right to issue compulsory licenses within international trade agreements.

Abbot is putting the profits before the people,” said AMSA National President Jay Bhatt. “It’s time the bottom line doesn't come before the health of our patients and their access to essential medicines.”


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