In a completely unprecedented move in any developing country, the drug giant Pfizer has listened to activist demands and agreed to provide Fluconazole (Diflucan®) to AIDS patients with cryptococcal meningitis free of charge.
The TAC welcomes this enormously significant offer, which shows that TAC has been proven correct about the pricing of drugs and the capacity of major international pharmaceutical companies to dramatically lower the price of essential HIV medicines and to offer treatment to people with AIDS.
Pfizer says that they have request a meeting with the Ministry of Health to seek their advice and collaboration in a program to deliver Diflucan free of charge through appropriate medical specialists for South African HIV/AIDS patients suffering from cryptococcal meningitis who cannot afford this treatment." We urge the Minister of Health to urgently meet with Pfizer to ensure that fluconazole can immediately be made available to the widest possible group of beneficiaries.
TAC will also work with Pfizer to ensure that this offer becomes real to thousands of people who may otherwise die of cryptococcal meningitis. TAC urges Pfizer to work with us on a programme to make fluconazole available for patients with esophageal thrush. Pfizer must also extend this generous offer to other developing countries hit hard by HIV/AIDS.
We call on Glaxo Wellcome, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim and other producers of essential HIV/AIDS drugs to follow Pfizer's lead and dramatically lower prices and meet TAC and the government to discuss rapid implementation of an essential drugs programme. In particular, we call on Glaxo Wellcome to follow Pfizer's lead and make AZT available free for reducing the risk of mother to child transmission.
TAC thanks Médecins Sans Frontières, the Health GAP Coalition, trade unions, churches and NGOs for their vital support in this campaign. This struggle has just begun. We call on concerned people in South African and internationally to join the March for Affordable Treatment on July 9th 2000 at the beginning of the International AIDS Conference.
For comment contact:
Mark Heywood: 011 403 6918; a/h 012 650 0270; 083 308 5328
Elize Petoors, Vicky Ahblein: 021 423 5026; 082 370 5307
Eric Goemare, Médecins Sans Frontières: 082 370 0542