Urges Gore to Reverse Policy on South African Policies Regarding Access to HIV/AIDS
Drugs, Other Medicines
- April 9 - Today Ralph Nader and James Love of the Consumer Project on Technology
(CPT) asked Vice President Gore to reverse US government policy on South African
policies regarding access to drugs for HIV/AIDS and other essential medicines.
According to Nader and Love, Vice President Gore has "engaged in an astonishing
array of bullying tactics to prevent South Africa from implementing policies,
legal under the rules of the World Trade Organization, that are designed to expand
access to HIV/AIDS drugs."
In dispute are South African attempts to implement legislation to permit parallel
imports of pharmaceutical drugs, which enable South Africa to buy drugs on the
global market at the best world price, and compulsory licensing of medical patents.
Nader and Love cited a 10 page February 5, 1999 Department of State report which
detailed the role of the Vice President and US trade agencies in seeking the repeal
of provisions in the South African Medicines Act which permit parallel importing
and compulsory licensing.
"The United States Surgeon General has likened the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa
to the plague which decimated Europe in the 14th century, Public health officials
estimate that one in five pregnant women in South Africa are HIV positive, and
that more than 45 percent of the South African military personnel are infected."
According to Nader and Love, US government trade officials have trumped up spurious
charges against the South African program, and made untrue assertions that South
African polices violate World Trade Organization rules. However, trade experts
including those that work for the WTO itself have been very clear that parallel
importing and compulsory licensing of essential medicines are specifically permitted
under the WTO "TRIPS" agreement on intellectual property.
"This [Department of State] report provides chapter and verse of a two year campaign
to use the weight of US power, short of military warfare, on South Africa to prevent
that country from implementing policies to obtain cheaper sources of essential
medicines" "[T]he United States government ... is literally asking South Africa
to abandon the lives of millions of infected citizens in order to receive reductions
in US barriers to trade or economic aid."
A copy of the Nader/Love Letter and the February 5, 1999 Department of State Report
on are the web at: http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/sa
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