January 30, 2007
Washington, DC -- Last week, dozens of members from the Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC) delivered bags filled with Monopoly money to Abbott Laboratories at their facilities in Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, D.C. and Ohio. In total, students delivered $5,943,013 worth of Monopoly money, representing the cost of a day's supply of their life-saving AIDS drug Kaletra/Aluvia for 1,001,000 people in five different countries (Ukraine, Thailand, India, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic).
Students used the symbolism of Monopoly money to point out that Abbott is using its monopoly on the life-saving drug lopinavir/ritonavir (sold as Kaletra or Aluvia) in ways that restrict rather than expand access to this drug to those most in need. Over 6 million people globally are in immediate need of AIDS treatment but 5 out of those 6 people have no access to the drugs that can extend their life. Activists are demanding increased access to Abbott's new formulation of Kaletra which is ideal for use in countries throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia where it doesn't require refrigeration or the need to be taken with meals.
The Student Global AIDS Campaign is renewing its calls for the company to lower its prices -- especially in middle-income countries like Thailand and Guatemala where the price of a year's supply of the new heat-stable form of Kaletra is $2,200, nearly equal to the average anuual income of $2,400 (in Guatemala).
Anuja Singh, a member of SGAC and student at Columbia University said, "Over the course of the five days where we delivered the money to Abbott, approximately 425,000 people died from AIDS. Most of these people would not have died if they had access to medicine; Abbott is in possession of life-saving medication. But why do they insist on putting their profits over access to these drugs?"
AIDS activists, including SGAC, have been pressuring Abbott to change their policies since 2005. The need for last week's actions, according to activists, is a result of Abbott's refusal to change their policies and make access to treatment a reality for people in the countries hit hardest by AIDS. "Until Abbott stops abusing monopoly power over life-saving AIDS drugs, we will continue to pressure them," said Matt Rehrig, a student at the University of Chicago.
In order to provide life-saving new Kaletra to those who need it, SGAC demands the following of Abbott: