Act Up to RNC, ''Drug Company Greed Kills''

For Immediate Release


Philadelphia Act Up

Contacts: 267-230-4645 or 215.280.7536

ACT UP office: 215.731.1844

PHILADELPHIA -- On the opening day of the RNC, ACT UP members dropped a giant 30 by 75 foot banner from a highly visible location. The activists demand that George W. Bush take a stand against high drug prices that result in the deaths of millions of people with HIV in Africa and worldwide. They demand that Bush publicly support the production of low-cost, generic AIDS drugs in developing nations. The actual event was secret until just before it took place.

The banner covered the entire billboard, next to the Schuykill River and I 676, and caused a gaper delay with rush out traffic. It read: BUSH AND DRUG COMPANY GREED KILLS GENERIC AIDS DRUGS FOR AFRICA NOW!

ACT UP Philadelphia is widely credited with forcing significant change in U.S. trade policy after the group targeted the Administration with a series of zaps and major demonstrations. These actions included numerous disruptions of the first several months of Vice President Al Gores campaign appearances. Under pressure from activist groups President Clinton issued an executive order this Spring halting the US Governments routine practice of levying sanctions against sub-Saharan nations that manufacture generic versions of expensive patented medicines.

Within 100 days in office, a drug-industry backed Bush Administration will reverse the executive order. With 23 million African lives at stake, AIDS drugs for Africa must become a campaign issue for Bush as well as Gore. stated ACT UPs Paul Davis.

At the July International AIDS Conference in South Africa, the Brazilian Government announced plans to assist poor countries with local manufacture of generic medicines. After a series of high profile meetings between generic manufacturers and Ministers of Health, cautious plans to pursue local manufacture or importation of generic medicine were widely reported.

The US Government has historically used its economic might to bully poor countries to adopt patent laws far stricter than WTO rules. Without the protection offered by the Clinton Executive Order on intellectual property and medications for poor countries, the glimmer of hope springing from the Durban AIDS Conference will be destroyed, said Davis.

Pharmaceutical companies have come under increasing fire for high prices globally. Even though African nations account for only 1.5% of the global pharmaceutical market, drug companies have pulled out their fat wallets to stop self-sufficient manufacture of generic drugs, reports ACT UP member Katie Krauss. The industry doesnt want citizens of richer countries to learn the facts: Pills cost pennies. Its the greed that costs lives.

The love affair between Bush and the drug companies is heartbreaking for people with HIV here and in Africa, stated Krauss.

According to published reports, Bush is plans to appoint Deborah Steelman, his top healthcare advisor, to a powerful position as Secretary of Health. Steelman is a leading insurance and drug company lobbyist. Her firm, Steelman Enterprises, received $3 million in one year from insurance firms and drug companies and has contributed substantially to the Bush campaign. Bushs top aides are drug company flunkies, said ACT UPs Bill Thorne. Do we really want these people in charge of our health?

Bush has been silent on AIDS as Governor and candidate. Bush's track record on AIDS in Texas has angered people with HIV across the US. Despite the high number of AIDS cases, state programs are chronically underfunded. Texas State Representative Glen Maxey, founder of Texas AIDS Treatment Data Network and AIDS Services of Austin, has stated that Bush is "Absent, nonexistent, AWOL." on AIDS.

George W. Bushs record on AIDS:

  • Texas ranks fourth in AIDS cases, right behind California, New York and Florida.
  • Although infection rates in Hispanic communities are soaring, the state has dramatically decreased its funding to AIDS organizations in the Hispanic community.
  • Despite the rise in HIV infections, Texas spending on HIV services has stayed level for eight of the last nine years,
    resulting in a per-capita cut.
  • Bush ignores a federal waiver to rescue the frequently bankrupt AIDS Drug Assistance Program in Texas, which provides life-saving AIDS drugs to low income Texans. The waiver does not require state funds, but does require the signature of Governor Bush. The waiver remains unsigned. The program also suffers from restricted, tiered access and an extremely low income cut off that leaves families with no access to treatment for AIDS.
  • ACT UP DEMANDS:

  • The Bush campaign must publicly commit to preserving and expanding the Clinton Executive Order. The order must be expanded to all least developed and developing nations. The US Government must not use its economic might to punish poor countries for pursuing sustainable, self-sufficient solutions to the AIDS Crisis.
  • The US Government must not exceed WTO patent rules on access to pharmaceuticals
  • The US Government must facilitate generic AIDS drugs for Africa and other poor countries by working to globalize manufacture and distribution of generic medicines in least developed and developing nations. Licensure to WHO of medicines the US Govt. retains right to is a start. Donation programs, while positive when not riddled with conditions, are not substitutes.
  • The US Government must cancel the debt of the world's poorest and most AIDS affected nations, without imposing onerous conditions. HIPC must be expanded and accelerated.


  • For more information on ACT UPs efforts to help developing nations access AIDS drugs, see http://aids.org/healthgap/, or http:://durban2000march.org/

    For more documents on intellectual property and access to medicines, check the Consumer Project on Technology: http://www.cptech.org/

    For more information on Steelman, see http://www.citizen.org/congress/fda/health/steelman.htm

    AMP Section Name:Pharmaceuticals
    • 122 Pharmaceuticals

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