Access to AIDS Drugs: A Universal Right

19 de may de 2007

<body><div id="article"><tr><td height="28" valign="middle" width="184"></td><td valign="middle" width="185"></td></tr><h1>Access to AIDS Drugs: A Universal Right</h1><p>The right to health care as a universal right more important than private profit, has become the central issue in the fight by developing nations to get access to anti-AIDS drugs.</p><p>Thai Public Health Minister Dr. Mongkol Na Songkhla will come to Washington next week, to defend his government's right to import and/or produce affordable generic anti-AIDS drugs, against a campaign of lies, and threats of economic sanctions from the Bush administration.</p><p>Thailand is under fire for asserting the principle of public health before private profits in allowing lower-cost generic versions of two Merck Co. antiretroviral drugs to be used in Thailand. It is now threatening to do the same with two antiretrovirals produced by Abbott Laboratories, if that company doesn't drastically lower their price. The issuance of "compulsory licenses" to override drug company patents in cases of life and death, is legal under World Trade Organization statutes.</p><p>Brazil's Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao issued an order April 24 to allow production of one of the Merck Co. drugs used in Thailand, on the grounds that "health is a basic human right." The Health Ministry statement cited the Brazilian Constitution, which declares health to be "a right of all and a duty of the State, guaranteed by social and economic policies which seek to reduce the risk of disease."</p><p>Thai Health Minister Mongkol last week received the support of former U.S. President Bill Clinton for his move, perfectly legal under international law, to override drug company patent protections in cases of life or death. Clinton's move marked a decisive public break with the genocidal AIDS policy of his former Vice President Al Gore.</p><p>Last January, 22 House Democrats sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab, with whose office Dr. Songkhla will meet next week, backing Thailand's move as fully legal, and warning that no U.S. reprisals against Thailand should be taken.</p></div></body>