Sometimes we in Berkeley can get caught up in local issues and squabbles while forgetting the catastrophe taking place in Africa as 10,000 die daily worldwide of AIDS. We are in a very privileged position in the Bay Area – very few lack access to medications or other necessities. Imagine the worst days of the epidemic here in the late 1980s being multiplied by 1,000 and you have the reality of Africa today. We must start using our positions, combined with our consciousness and love to change the course of the World AIDS cataclysm. This year more than ever we must put the WORLD in World AIDS Day.
This is a call and invitation to all Daily Planet readers concerned about AIDS to march with us on World AIDS Day Eve, Noon, November 30, beginning at Roche, 2929 Seventh St. (at Ashby), Berkeley. Roche is one of three major pharmaceutical companies aggessively seeking patents in Africa to stop importation of cheap generic treatments from India. At Roche we will hear speakers from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Sri Lanka to give us an international perspective on AIDS.
Then we will march five blocks to Bayer to link the unmitigated greed of the pharmaceutical companies (most profitable Fortune 500 industry for the last 20 years) to lack of affordable medications. Even with the Federal government’s forced price reduction on the anthrax treatment CIPRO, Bayer’s profit on CIPRO is 65 percent according to the New York Times. Doxycyciline, another anthrax treatment, is available at 3 percent the price of CIPRO. Yet the government and leaders of the pharmaceutical industry struck a deal to protect Bayer’s 16 year monopoly on anthrax treatments.
Presently there are 71 million Americans without prescription coverage.
This could be you in the future as a good portion are senior citizens on Medicare. Drug prices in Canada and Europe average 60 percent of US prices.
Prices here could be lowered and the difference made up in increased sales volume. We demand an end to patent abuse which will soon include 20 year patent monopolies worldwide, and demand cheap generic alternatives in public health emergencies such as AIDS, cancer or anthrax.
There’s a difference between a decent rate of return and obscene profit margins — it’s increased human suffering and death. Big Pharma spends three times as much on marketing and administration than research (37-12 percent) and profits last year were 18 percent overall, with prescription drugs like CIPRO and all AIDS drugs bringing in much more.
Think globally, act locally. Join ACT UP/East Bay, Global Exchange, California Nurses Association, Berkeley Gray Panthers, Elders for Survival, East Bay Community Law Center, Ecology Center, Vote Health, Middle East Childrens Alliance, HealthGAP, GRI Charitable Foundation, Lesbian and Gay Insurrection and Berkeley Councilmembers Maudelle Shirek and Kriss Worthington in demanding “Affordable Medications for All Nations.” Info: 510-841-4339.