Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report - Thu, 31 May 2001
* Kenyan Activists 'Step Up' Lobbying Efforts in Support of Drug Im-
* Britain to Donate US$ 100 Million to Global AIDS Fund
Kenyan Activists 'Step Up' Lobbying Efforts in Support of Drug Impor-
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 $1 a
day. "This IP bill could bring hope and longer and more productive
lives to millions of Kenyans who are suffering or have family and
friends dying of AIDS," Eva Ombaka of Health Action International, a
not-for-profit global health network, said. Kenya has 2.2 million
AIDS patients, with about 1,000 able to afford drug treatment
Britain to Donate US$ 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
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