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At WHO EB, South African DG health and doctors challenge pharma lobbying plans http://uaem.org/south-african-pharma-lobbying-plans/ … @WHO @uaem

South African DG health and doctors challenge pharma lobbying plans
GENEVA, January 23, 2014 - In a meeting with Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), South African Director General of Health Malebona Precious Matsoso strongly criticized a leaked proposal by the pharmaceutical industry lobby to undermine access to medicines in South Africa.

The leaked plan from Public Affairs Engagement, a lobbying firm based in Washington, D.C., focused on halting reforms to South Africa’s intellectual property laws that would expand access to life-saving drugs. The firm outlined a subversive grassroots campaign to cast doubt on the well-established link between patent-protected prices and limited drug access for lower-income South Africans. US and South African pharmaceutical companies planned to argue that sick South Africans would benefit more from increased pharmaceutical sector income than from securing more affordable treatments for HIV and other deadly diseases. The leaked lobbying plan warned that PhRMA should avoid allowing the South African reforms to become a model for others countries inside and outside Africa, including India and Brazil.

“This is taking us back 18 years,” said Director General Precious Matsoso. “Nelson Mandela led the response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in South Africa, and we have made much progress with 2.4 million people on ARVs. Where intellectual property is a barrier to access to medicines, countries must protect the safeguards that are in the TRIPS agreement in order to save lives.” Whatever happens with the leaked plan, DG Matsoso, South African health activists, and UAEM members say this furtive campaign raises broader concerns about the pharmaceutical industry’s role in global public health.

“This PhRMA/IPASA strategy harkens back to the one used over a decade ago to block access to affordable AIDS drugs in Africa, “ said Dr. Kavitha Kolappa, former board member of UAEM and observer at the WHO Executive Board meeting in Geneva. “This threatens access to newer medications not only for HIV/AIDS, but also for the burgeoning epidemic of chronic diseases. Literally millions of lives are at stake here.” At a time when we are facing a double burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, we must act swiftly against barriers to access for life-saving medications.

As the WHO Executive Board meets today to discuss a resolution concerning access to medicines, UAEM encourages all Member States to stand in solidarity with South Africa and its proposed reforms to protect the lives of the world’s poor.

 
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