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[e-drug] German minister calls on industry to withdraw from SA case

E-drug: German minister calls on industry to withdraw from SA case
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Press Release_Development Policy
      Dear All,
      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
      MP questions.
      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)


     Nr. 22/2001
      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
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