Progay Assails AIDS Drugs Companies

Members of the Progressive Organization of Gays (Progay) picketed the Department of Health (DOH) and urged secretary Manuel Dayrit to start lowering the prices of expensive drugs, such as HIV antiretrovirals, to make it more affordable to the masses.

Progay joins the international protest against multinational drug companies that sued the South African government for attempting to reduce the cost of HIV medicines. Similar protests have been conducted in Brazil, Chile, Italy, South Africa and the United States spearheaded by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in support of the South African government.

It would be recalled that South Africa passed the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act in 1997 that seeks to lower the prices of expensive imported drugs. Several drug companies filed a suit at the South African Supreme Court seeking to repeal the law. Among the drug companies that filed the suit are Glaxo SmithKline, Bristol Meyer Squibb, Boeringer Ingelheim, Merck and Abbott.

It was learned that all HIV/AIDS drugs are manufactured by multinational companies under patent and are imported in South Africa.

Worldwide, the UNAIDS estimates that there are about 36.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS, 21.8 million of whom have died already. In the Philippines, there are at least 1,452 people with HIV/AIDS, which the DOH has recorded since the disease was first monitored in 1984.

Source: Today, March 10, 2001; UNAIDS; Department of Health-HIV/AIDS Registry

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