Cape Town, South Africa – Activists from Act Up-Paris, Treatment
Action Campaign, followed by individuals from organizations such as
MSF, Act Up-Lusaka, REDS demonstrated this afternoon in the exhibition
room during the 5th IAS Conference on HIV that is taking place in Cape
Town. They walked around the pharma companies’ (Pfizer, MSD, Tibotec,
BMS, Bohringer ingelheim, Gilead) boothes to protest against the high
price of 2nd and 3rd line drugs and the cost of conducting a viral
They organized a silent die-in at the entry of the exhibition
room. They were urging drug companies to drop the price of thier drugs
and of the viral load. They were also demanding the governements to
promote generic drugs. Several activists expressed their concern
regarding the situation regarding the access to drugs during the press
conference that was following : Vuyiseka Dubula (Treatment Action
Campaign – South Africa), Rolake Odetoyinbo (Treatment action
movement- Nigeria), Gilles Van Cutsem (MSF), Stéphane Vambre and
Pauline Londeix (Act Up-Paris, France).
Real world universal access to treatment implies indeed that every
drug, including 2nd line and newer drugs, is made readily available.
It also implies that every PLWHIV has access to complete lab
monitoring (CD4 count, viral load, genotypic tests.) In order to begin
the right treatment and switch if necessary.
Today PLWHIV who have access to treatments (less than 30 % of all
PLWHIV across the world according to UNAIDS) rarely have access to
complete lab monitoring nor to second and third line treatments even
though these drugs are important because they are often less toxic and
because they are required to overcome resistance. The main obstacles
to access are the high price of these drugs and the cost of
conducting a viral load. Patents that prevent universal access to
treatment must be broken when they stand between people and treatment.
The international treaties on the protection of the Intellectual
Property allow patents to be broken in such cases of global pandemic
and emergency, issueing compulsory licencings.