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Publication: Beeld Date: 12 May 1999 AZT – Debacle An American pharmaceutical company’s decision to donate R600 million to fight against AIDS in South Africa and four of its’ neighbouring countries, should not be regarded as an encore by a company with a cash-surplus who’s social conscience is bothering him. What this company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the UN Agency, UNIADS is actually saying, is that AIDS here in Southern Africa is a threat for world health. The American donation should serve as a wake-up call for the government as well as taxpayers that this country is in the midst of a tragedy. Because of that is the government’s renewed negative attitude towards the drug AZT incomprehensible. UNAIDS has already said last year in October, that they will give this drug for free to two hospitals in South Africa, but up until now nothing has happened. After an almost unbelievably bureaucratic delay, it seems that one of the hospitals got permission to use the drug. If South Africa is going to support the UN programme against AIDS, then we can not afford such mistakes. It does not make sense to say thank you for a donation such as the one from the Americans, and then to react negatively towards an offer like that of UNAIDS regarding AZT. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Publication: Beeld Date: 13 May 1999 Money for AIDS research “good signal to South Africa” Company donates R620 million That, notwithstanding 2 years of “medicine-war” Washington – The donation of R620 million for HIV/AIDS research in Southern Africa by one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb, is being translated as a positive signal to South Africa. On the one hand is the South African government and the American pharmaceutical industry, involved for almost 2 years, in a “medicine-war” over patent rights of “too expensive” medicines. On the other hand; the rapid spreading of HIV/AIDS is threatening Southern Africa’s economical and political consistency. Ironically enough, the donation comes from a company that has been condemned by the American Consumer activist, Mr. Ralph Nader, as a bloodsucker that will not hesitate to climb over dead bodies, to loot Africa. One of its’ employees Mr. Jamie Love, is an advisor to Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, Health Minister, at the World Health Organisation, in Geneva. Love recently organised a demonstration against the Corporate Council on Africa – a corporation that represents 200 multinational corporations in Southern Africa – in Washington to object against the expensive AIDS medicines for the South African government. Zuma has been requested, in various speeches, to keep the pressure on the industry with her controversial legislature, which is being seen by the industry as a violation of intellectual proprietary rights. The constituency of the law is presently being tested by the court. Judgement is awaited very soon, that will determine whether the controversial art. 15 (c) constitutional is. This clause gives her full power to give patent rights for new medicines, at her discretion, to third parties for the supply of cheaper, genetic medicines. The R620 million will primarily be used for the development of better, new medicines for HIV/AIDS treatment, as well as training of medical personnel. According to Mr. Charles Heimbold Jnr. CEO of the company, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland were chosen for the “Secure the Future” programme, because 70% of all new infections worldwide can be found in Africa, south of the Sahara. In South Africa alone, there is already more than 3,5 million people infected with the virus. In Botswana, bout 36 percent of pregnant women are infected with the virus, and 4 out of 5 AIDS related deaths worldwide, occur in this region. “The impact of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa is startling. Our organisation, who is at the forefront of research and production of new drugs, regard it as our moral obligation to act and to help stop this trend and to improve victims quality of life.” The organisation produces several medicines, including Zerit and Videx that in certain cases oppressed the virus and extended the patients life.
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