On the eve of the International AIDS Society conference in Sydney, Australia, the Brisbane Times tells the sad tale of how Big Pharma has used its influence over U.S. politicians to fight attempts by Thailand to provide low-cost AIDS drugs to its people:
The world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are working to prevent developing countries from reducing the price of high-cost medicines. Put simply, in some cases “big pharma” places profits before lives … Since Thailand acted to protect the lives of vulnerable people, members of the US pharmaceutical industry lobbied the US Government to bully Thailand to capitulate. As a result the US Government placed Thailand on its “most wanted” list of intellectual property violators. And that opens the door to the US slapping future trade sanctions on Thailand.
Despite Big Pharma’s maneuvers, the problem of overpriced AIDs drugs might actually be solved by the global marketplace:
Competition between pharmaceuticals to produce generic medicines has reduced the cost of first-line HIV medicines by up to 90 per cent. Today, Indian companies supply much of the world’s anti-retrovirals. Even the US Government relies heavily on India’s cheap generic medicines. Indeed, as much as 80 per cent of the medicines used in the US AIDS program, which treats nearly 1 million AIDS patients globally, are manufactured in India.