E-drug: German minister calls on industry to withdraw from SA case
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Press Release_Development Policy
Below you will find the translation we did of a statement that was
issued on the 5th March by the German minister of development
cooperation. The Dutch minister of development cooperation has also
made very supportive statements in the media and in response to Dutch
The Dutch Prime minister said last week when addressing the parliament
in South Africa: "Developing countries should be be able to produce or
import cheap medicines. The situation is to threatening to leave it
entirely up to the free market".
Yesterday the judge postponed the court proceedings until 18 April
after objections from the companies to allow TAC as a friend of the
The companies argued that should TAC be allowed they would need at
least four months to reply to TACs brief. This brief addresses issues
related to high drug prices and questions the need for the high level
of patent protection in South Africa.
The companies stressed that it takes time to get evidence from "over
seas". The judge gave the companies until March 28 to respond. He
stressed that the companies knew since February about TACs brief and
could have started preparations.
It is fantastic that high level government officials now add their
voice and ask the companies to withdraw from the case.
From Ellen 't Hoen
EHOEN@paris.msf.org (ellen t hoen)
Berlin/Bonn, March 5, 2001
Wieczorek-Zeul calls on the pharmaceutical industry to withdraw its
suit against South Africa
The 39 pharmaceutical companies have sued the South African
government because of their implementation of a law allowing the
production and use of cheaper AIDS medications.
The Minister of Development Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul appealed to the
pharmaceutical companies to withdraw their suit as legal proceedings
began in a South African court.
"South Africa has to ward off a national catastrophe,"
declared the Minister. According to UNAIDS estimates, almost 20
percent of all adults in South Africa are infected with the AIDS
virus. The World Trade Organization's so-called TRIPS (Trade Related
Intellectual Property Rights) agreement, which aims to protect
intellectual property rights, explicitly provides for countries
loosening patent protections on medications in the case of national
emergencies so that generic medications can be produced and imported
instead of the original name-brand medications. "Actually it should
be clear that the devastating spread of AIDS represents a national
emergency," said Wieczorek-Zeul. As a result, pharmaceutical
companies should not file suit, but work together with developing
countries to find feasible ways to provide affordable medications for
people infected with the AIDS virus in poorer regions of the world.
"We don't need confrontation, but cooperation," the Minister
In her view, this cooperative approach was embodied by the agreement
of five international pharmaceutical companies with the United Nations
to offer their medications at substantially reduced prices in
developing countries - a first step which should be followed by further
Send mail for the `E-Drug' conference to `email@example.com'.
Mail administrative requests to `firstname.lastname@example.org'.
For additional assistance, send mail to: `email@example.com'.