COSATU/TAC Joint Statement
19 April 2001

The decision by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) to withdraw their court case against the South African government is an historic victory of good over evil. Every South African can be proud that we have won this battle against such powerful and wealthy opponents. All of us together made this possible.

For people living with HIV/AIDS and other serious illnesses there is now a ray of hope that they will soon be able to get access to the life-saving treatment they need.

COSATU and the Treatment Action Group (TAC) congratulate and thank the Government for standing firm in defence of its legislation and refusing to enter into any deals with the multinational drugs companies.

We also thank all those activists who sacrificed their time to attend pickets and marches all over South Africa and the international supporters in trade unions, NGOs, governments and the 250 000 individuals who signed a petition. This victory proves that mass mobilisation can lead to success. People all over the world have won a major victory.

It is right that the South African government should be taking the lead on behalf of all developing countries, in the struggle for cheaper medicines and a better life for all their peoples.

The campaign however is not over. We need to continue to work together to take the campaign forward until all who need medicines have access to them. COSATU and TAC have called for a conference between government and civil society to look into ways to speed up the implementation of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act and begin to supply life-saving anti-retroviral drugs to people living with HIV/AIDS. We are also calling on the government to increase the Health Department's budget to make this possible.

COSATU's Central Executive Committee, at its meeting next week, will also be considering making an appeal to major employers like Anglo-American, De Beers, Old Mutual, etc. to supply antiretroviral medicines to those of their employees and their families who need them.

COSATU and TAC will be joining the international campaign in support of the Brazilian Government, which has been taken to the World Trade Organisation to answer 'charges' that it too has passed laws to make cheaper drugs accessible to the poor, in defiance of patent laws which favour the big private corporations.

The South African case has proved that pressure from the people of the world can humble the most mighty economic giants. The call for 'People before Profits!' will be heard again and again until it becomes a reality in every part of the globe.

Siphiwe Mgcina COSATU Spokesperson 082-821-7456 339-4911

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