March 22, 2000
ACT UP takes Pfizer's Headquarters by surprise

March 22, 2000

James Brigaitis
Team Leader Diflucan
235 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017-5755

Mr. Brigaitis,

As advocates for People Living With HIV and AIDS, it is unacceptable to ACT UP that patients are still dying today because of curable diseases. We cannot passively stand by as patients in poor countries die because they do not have access to medicines that can save their lives. We can not stand by as your greed kills people because they are poor and can not afford drugs that are cheap to make, because you choose to charge a fortune for the drugs.

We know, Medecins Sans Frontieres and its national colleagues in the public and private sector, continue to diagnose more cases of cryptococcal meningitis, but are incapable, in most cases, of treating these patients afflicted with this fatal illness because of the high price you charge for the drug. In Bangkok, a patient afflicted with cryptococcal meningitis benefits from being treated with fluconazole at a reasonable price, which is not the case, either in Kenya, or in South Africa. In practical terms, this signifies that the selling price is 15 to 17 times higher in Kenya and South Africa than in Thailand, where the medicine is not patent protected. You are charge two of more times the average daily wage for a medicine that can save some onešs life. When they canšt afford to pay for the drugs you withhold, you are murdering them. People with systemic fungal infections also die from lack of this drug.

We think that the populations in poor countries should be able to pay less for essential medicines. It is the populations of rich countries that should assume most of the costs of research and development for these treatments. If the patent system can be an important motor to encourage research and development of new medicines, a balance has to be found to allow access of populations of poor countries to medicines able to help save lives.

In the poor countries where Pfizer holds the marketing rights to fluconazole ACT UP demands you:

- Either to lessen the sale price of fluconazole (200 mg) pills at 0.6 US dollars or less, equal to the price of the generic version available in Thailand;

- Or, if you estimate that you cannot sell fluconazole at this price, allow voluntary licensing to governments and to NGOs or international institutions that formally ask you.

ACT UP supports the demand that was made March 13, 2000 by Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa. If Pfizer would provide voluntary licensing to TAC, under its authority in South Africa, it could authorize the making and importation of a generic form of quality fluconazole at a low price.

We also are outraged that you are charging high prices for this drug, claiming to have discovered it, and claiming to need to reclaim research and development costs. We know both the first and the second patent on this drug were filed by (and thus discovered by) Kenneth Richardson of Empirical Chemicals Industries, Plc. UK. The patent information appears below:

The second patent was invented by Kenneth Richardson (Canterbury, GB2). The patent was assigned to Pfizer Inc. (New York, NY).

Patent Number: 4,404,216
Filed: June 1, 1982
Approved: September 13, 1983

Appl. No.: 383866

We also know Empirical Chemicals Industries pharmaceuticals division was sold to Astra Zeneca, and we plan to expose your false claims to having discovered the drug.

Your decision in this matter is a question of life and death for sick people with AIDS in poor countries.

We reiterate our demand for a meeting with you to present our assessment of the situation of people with AIDS whom we are trying to treat throughout the world.

Yours Sincerely,

Eric Sawyer

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