[Ip-health] Merck pharmagate protest in London

Mohga Kamal-Yanni mkamalyanni at Oxfam.org.uk
Wed Feb 5 04:56:58 PST 2014

When will Pharma know that the problem is not activists nor governments. 
Their problem is their business model which is fundamentally flawed and 
not suitable for 21 century!

Best wishes for more Sane, Just and Peaceful world in 2014
Dr. Mohga M Kamal-Yanni
Senior health & HIV policy advisor, Oxfam GB
John Smith Drive, Oxford, OX4 2JY, UK
UK Mobile   + 44 (0)777 62 55 884
Follow me @MohgaKamalYanni

From:   Diarmaid McDonald <Diarmaid at stopaids.org.uk>
To:     "'ip-health at lists.keionline.org'" <ip-health at lists.keionline.org>, 
"'ip-health at lists.essential.org'" <ip-health at lists.essential.org>
Date:   05/02/2014 12:28
Subject:        [Ip-health] Merck pharmagate protest in London
Sent by:        "Ip-health" <ip-health-bounces at lists.keionline.org>

AIDS Activists say Merck walking all over South Africans for profit
Wednesday 5th February 2013

Activists wrapped in South African flags lay on the ground at the entrance 
to the London offices of Merck today, demanding the multinational pharma 
company drop their opposition to South Africa's plans to improve access to 
affordable medicines.

Forcing staff to step over them, and past a banner reading, "Merck - ready 
to walk all over South African's to turn a profit", the activists say they 
represented the millions of people living in South Africa who are 
prevented from accessing medicines because of high prices.

A strategy document, leaked last month, revealed Merck as the ringleaders 
of a secret big-money plot to derail a South African government plan to 
overhaul the nation's patent laws. The plot - largely financed with big 
pharma cash from the US - detailed a sophisticated series of actions 
designed to resemble a political campaign aimed at stopping the reforms 
from going through.

Drug companies have described the battle to block the reforms as "ground 
zero" in their global battle to tighten intellectual property law. Across 
the developing world tighter IP laws have led to higher prices and 
worsening health outcomes, whereas the pro-health reforms opposed by big 
pharma have reduced prices and increased access in places like India, 
Thailand and South America.

Campaigners say the current laws massively prioritise patents and profits 
over health and prevent millions of people in South African from accessing 
affordable treatment. Antibiotic Linezolid, for example, is priced at £37 
per pill in South Africa, but is available for just £1.37 in India. 
Diarmaid McDonald from STOPAIDS who took part in the demonstration said,

"Merck and over a dozen other big pharma companies tried to hijack the 
democratic process in South Africa by spending hundreds of thousands of 
dollars on a myth-pedalling campaign to protect their profits at the cost 
of the lives of people who need access to affordable medicines.

"We're here to demand that they drop this attack on South African's right 
to health. We call on the South African government to press ahead with 
these lifesaving reforms. Merck and big pharma must stop trying to walk 
all over South Africans in order to turn a profit.

"We also call on the UK government to defend South Africa's right to 
reform their laws for the benefit of their people. This is a perfectly 
legal move, well within rules agreed by the WHO and WTO, designed to 
increase access to medicines. With DFID pulling out of South Africa it is 
even more important the UK defends South Africa when it tries to make 
these pro-health reforms."

South Africa does not currently review patent applications, leading to 
more patents being granted there than in either the US or EU. In 2008 
alone, 2442 pharmaceutical patents were granted - almost ten times the 
number granted by Brazil over five years. Many companies make small 
changes to their drugs and file new patents in order to maintain their 
South African monopoly in a practice known as 'ever-greening'. By 
reforming the law South Africa can increase access to affordable medicines 
in the country where over 5 million people are living with HIV and costs 
of 2nd and 3rd line treatments which are increasingly needed are still 
prohibitively high.



·         STOPAIDS is a network of 80 UK agencies working since 1986 to 
secure an effective global response to HIV and AIDS.

·         The leaked Pharmagate plot documents can be read here: 

And here: http://keionline.org/sites/default/files/merck-email.pdf

·         The 'Fix the Patent Laws<http://www.fixthepatentlaws.org/>' 
campaign in South Africa is run by MSF and the Treatment Action Campaign 
and states: South Africa's current patent laws put the rights of 
patent-holders before the rights of patients. The law includes all the 
worst parts from the international TRIPS agreement on trade and 
intellectual property, but does not include the parts that we can use to 
make medicines more affordable. The campaign aims to secure reforms so 
South Africa fully utilises legal flexibilities in the agreement to 
improve access to medicines there.

Contact: Diarmaid McDonald 07894455781

Diarmaid McDonald
Advocacy Manager

00 44 (0) 20 7324 4785

We've rebranded! STOPAIDS brings together our two previous identities - 
the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development and the Stop AIDS 
As part of its factsheet series, STOPAIDS has partnered with two of its 
members, WaterAid<http://www.wateraid.org/uk/> and CAFOD<
http://www.cafod.org.uk/>, to explore the connections between water, 
sanitation, hygiene (WASH), HIV and AIDS, and provide recommendations on 
how HIV interventions can integrate WASH into their programming. Download 
the factsheet here<

Grayston Centre
28 Charles Square
London N1 6HT

Twitter: @StopAIDS

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