Rally targets drug industry

By Hank Sims, Daily Planet Staff
Friday November 30, 2001

A rally against the pharmaceutical industry will be held today at noon. 

Organizers, including ACT UP-East Bay, Global Exchange, the California Nurses Association and the Middle East Children’s Alliance, are demanding that large pharmaceutical corporations allow generic versions of their anti-HIV drugs to be produced. 

“(We call) on pharmaceutical companies to stop monopoly patent abuse in public health crises such as AIDS or anthrax,” organizers said in a prepared statement. 

Protesters will meet at the Roche Diagnostics building, 2929 Seventh St., at noon. From there, they will march to the Bayer Pharmaceuticals laboratory at 2500 Seventh St. to hear a number of speakers. 

Phillip Machingura, a Zimbabwean health activist, will talk about his country’s experiences in acquiring life-saving drugs for its citizens. Ken Baxter of Hemophilia Justice will talk about how thousands of hemophiliacs became infected with HIV though the use of Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ treatments. 

The keynote speaker, Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen, will deliver an address on the political power of the pharmaceutical industry. 

Vice-Mayor Maudelle Shirek and Councilmember Kriss Worthington will also speak. 

On Thursday, John Iversen, co-founder of ACT UP-East Bay addressed the issue of drug-company profits. 

“We don’t begrudge them a decent rate of return, but we do begrudge them an obscene rate of return,” he said. “The fact is, the pharmaceutical industry is more interested in making drugs for hair loss, hard-ons and waistlines than for fatal diseases – because such products are more profitable.” 

The rally is one of the many events in the area associated with World AIDS Day, Dec. 1.