Shaming companies

Published: Wednesday 31 January 2001

the discount scheme recently introduced by five leading pharmaceutical companies for aids drugs in developing countries is just a charade, reports the International Herald Tribune . The companies had pledged to bring down the prices of patented aids drugs. But it seems this has not happened except for in some places like Senegal. The companies -- Bristol Myers Squibb Corporation, Glaxo Wellcome Limited, Merck & Corporation, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH and F Hoffman-La Roche & Corporation -- offered 'selective discounts' that remained under their control. These discounts helped them to establish themselves in new markets.

In the eight months since the agreement, only one company, Glaxo Wellcome, has been willing to disclose its discount offer of us $2 a day. Admitting the fact that the company's offer "was still unattainable for most countries and individuals," Glaxo's chairperson, Richard Sykes, said that his company "was not prepared for their drugs to be used in ineffective health services because of the major risks of drug resistance arising from breaks in treatment." "Even today most people in the world cannot afford the drugs," says Paul DeLay, chief of the aids division of the us agency for international development.

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