Today July 13 2007, The Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS and Act Up-Paris have invited Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White to a conciliation meeting with a representative of the Thai government, during the International AIDS Conference in Sydney, on July 23 2007. This meeting aims to offer the drug company an opportunity to get out of the crisis in which it has dug itself since announcing a blockade of lifesaving medicines against the Thais, followed by a lawsuit against people with HIV for organizing an internet protest.
On February 14, Abbott announced that, until the Thai government grants Abbott a long-term monopoly on sales of the lifesaving HIV medicine Aluvia, Abbott was effecting an immediate blockade on the distribution of this lifesaving drug to all HIV/AIDS patients in Thailand.
On May 23, Abbott Laboratories, a 22.5 billion dollar company, announced having hired the world’s biggest law firm, Baker & McKenzie, to sue the HIV patient group Act Up-Paris, for having organized an international internet demonstration on the website of Abbott, in protest against the drug company’s blockade of lifesaving medication in Thailand.
As financial and mass media have reported on the disastrous impact that the Abbott blockade is having on the lives of impoverished Thais struggling with the AIDS virus (see Reuters story of May 22), these actions by Abbott Laboratories have snowballed into a public relations crisis which is further staining the reputation of the entire patent-based pharmaceutical industry (see comments by GlaxoSmithKline in Wall Street Journal of June 18).
Act Up-Paris has tried discussing the need for the immediate removal of the Abbott blockade against Thai patients with Abbott Public Relations Director Dirk Van Eeden, only to come to the conclusion that Mr Van Eeden is already very well aware of the public relations disaster which these decisions are proving to be for Abbott, and that only CEO Miles White himself has the authority to overrule his own decision to withhold lifesaving HIV medicine from sick HIV/AIDS patients in Thailand.
That is why the Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS and Act Up-Paris are kindly calling upon the Abbott CEO to publicly confirm his willingness to participate in person in a conciliation meeting with a representative of the Thai government on July 23rd at the International AIDS Conference in Sydney, in order to finally arrive at a dignified resolution of this crisis which is an embarrassment to all stakeholders in the global fight against AIDS.
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