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APRIL  9, 1999  3:41 PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:
Consumer Project On Technology
Jamie Love of CPT, 202-387-8030
E-mail: love@cptech.org;
or Ralph Nader, 202-387-8030
CPT Urges Gore to Reverse Policy on South African Policies Regarding Access to HIV/AIDS Drugs, Other Medicines
 
WASHINGTON - 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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