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AFRO-NETS> Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Thu, 31 May 2001



Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Thu, 31 May 2001
-----------------------------------------------

* Kenyan Activists 'Step Up' Lobbying Efforts in Support of Drug Im-
  portation Bill
* Britain to Donate US$ 100 Million to Global AIDS Fund


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Kenyan Activists 'Step Up' Lobbying Efforts in Support of Drug Impor-
tation Bill

Kenyan AIDS activists have increased their lobbying activities on be-
half of the proposed Industrial Property Bill that would allow for 
the importation of cheaper generic medicines, Reuters reports. The 
Kenyan Coalition for Access to Essential Medicines announced on Mon-
day that it was spearheading a nationwide "countdown campaign" that 
will include a petition, prayer and newspaper obituaries for the ap-
proximately 700 Kenyans who die of AIDS-related complications daily. 
The bill, set to be debated next month in Parliament, is "fiercely 
opposed" by pharmaceutical companies, who have conducted their own 
"behind the scenes" lobbying efforts. The companies have taken a less 
noticeable, "less confrontational" approach in opposing the Kenyan 
bill after they were "badly bruised" in the fight over a similar 
South African law last month and out of "fear of creating a snowball 
effect" across the developing world, where 25.3 million people are 
infected with HIV. GlaxoSmithKline, the world's largest manufacturer 
of AIDS drugs, last week announced plans to further "slash" AIDS drug 
prices in Kenya. Critics contend, however, that the proposed price 
reductions "did not go far enough" because drug prices remain "well 
beyond the scope" of the average citizen, who earns less than $1 a 
day. "This IP bill could bring hope and longer and more productive 
lives to millions of Kenyans who are suffering or have family and 
friends dying of AIDS," Eva Ombaka of Health Action International, a 
not-for-profit global health network, said. Kenya has 2.2 million 
AIDS patients, with about 1,000 able to afford drug treatment 
(Reuters, 5/29).


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Britain to Donate US$ 100 Million to Global AIDS Fund

The United Kingdom has announced that it will contribute 75 million 
pounds -- about US$ 100 million -- to the U.N.'s global fund to fight 
HIV/AIDS in the developing world, the Guardian reports. Britain's 
contribution is smaller than the United States' $200 million alloca-
tion, but it represents a greater proportion of the country's gross 
domestic product than the funding proposed by the Bush administra-
tion. However, since international contributions to the fund thus far 
have been "pitiful" -- only Britain and the United States have 
pledged money -- the U.K. contribution "will not swell Kofi Annan's 
coffers," the Guardian reports (Boseley, Guardian, 5/31).

U.K. Seeks Contributions From Drug Firms

Gordon Brown, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, and Clare Short, 
secretary for international development, are calling on pharmaceuti-
cal companies to deliver anti-AIDS drugs "at bargain basement prices" 
to developing countries, the Guardian reports. Brown, who agreed to 
provide the firms with tax breaks for research and development of 
cheap drugs for developing nations, has held "private talks" with the 
drug companies concerning other efforts to provide less costly medi-
cines to poor countries. Brown said, "It's time for the pharmaceuti-
cal companies to do more. The evidence is that the drug companies can 
do more. ... We call on the pharmaceutical industry to step up their 
responsibilities to recognize the scale of the challenge we face." 
Although offers of cheap drugs from major pharmaceutical companies 
did not come often in the past, Brown and Short said that "the mood 
has changed" since the drug firms withdrew their case against a South 
African law permitting generic drug importation and manufacturing 
last month (White/Elliott, Guardian, 5/31).

--
The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, 
a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, by National 
Journal Group Inc. c 2001 by National Journal Group Inc. and Kaiser 
Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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