Georgia: Emory Conference to Tackle AIDS Drug Fight
April 2, 2003
An Emory University School of Law conference this week will focus on whether U.S. pharmaceutical companies should give developing countries access to generic AIDS drugs. The conference, scheduled for Thursday and Friday in Atlanta, will bring together experts in law, public health, medicine, development and global business. "We're going to try to take it away from the idea of simply patents vs. people's lives," said Peter Fischer, a conference organizer with the Emory International Law Review.Adapted from:
The United States was the only one of 144 nations opposing a World Trade Organization agreement in December that would have granted developing countries the right to make or import generic drugs for AIDS, malaria, TB and other diseases. Health groups and leaders of developing countries decried the U.S. stance, saying American drug companies reap enough profits in wealthy nations to spread their wealth where it is desperately needed. "Big pharmaceutical companies are ransoming millions of lives in order to preserve false perceptions of the cost of manufacturing and the cost of research and development," said Paul Davis, director of U.S. government relations for Health GAP (Global Access Project).
U.S. drug makers are willing to give up patent protection for limited use of vital drugs for AIDS and other select diseases -- but they contend other countries are out for more. The WTO agreement would have allowed "any country in the world to decide to take away patents for any drug at any time," said Mark Grayson, spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. It would have let developing nations go after generic drugs for cancer and heart disease, and even the erectile dysfunction pill Viagra, thus stripping U.S. drug firms of the incentive to develop new medicines, industry representatives have said.
Also at the conference, a top Bush administration advisor is expected to discuss the president's five-year, $15 billion package to fight the global AIDS epidemic.
04.02.03; David Wahlberg
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.