[Pharm-policy] SA trade unions support TAC, sort of
Thu, 26 Oct 2000 02:02:02 -0400
25/10/2000 20:32 - (SA)
Cosatu supports TAC drug import
Johannesburg - The Congress of SA
Trade Unions on Wednesday said it
supported the Treatment Action Campaign's importation of generic
medication to treat HIV/Aids, provided such importation was legal.
TAC leader Zachie Achmat last week announced that he had illegally
imported a generic version of Fluconazole from Thailand at a fraction
the cost of the original.
He said this was part of TAC's defiance campaign against "patent
abuse and Aids profiteering" by multinational pharmaceutical
Achmat also presented the Department of Health with 3 000 tablets of
the generic drug in the hope that it would be registered for
Addressing the media in Johannesburg, Cosatu secretary general
Zwelinzima Vavi said the trade union federation's executive committee
met on Tuesday for the first time after its seventh national congress
September and discussed a number of issues, including the TAC's
He said the committee expressed its sympathy and support for a
campaign that would force pharmaceutical companies to drop drug
"It also reaffirmed its support for legislation initiated by the
to ensure parallel importation of [generic] drugs and enable compulsory
licensing - the Medicines and Related Substance Control Amendment
Act passed in 1997," Vavi said.
He said the legislation's passage into law had been frustrated by a
Constitutional Court case brought by pharmaceutical companies, who
claimed the act was unconstitutional.
"As a result it has not been implemented, to the detriment of the
health of many South Africans, including those who are living with
HIV/Aids," said Vavi.
He said Fluconazole was an example of instances where drug
producers, in this case Pfizer, charged far more than generic versions
Vavi said the drug treated yeast infections that could kill Aids
by causing thrush and cryptococcal meningitis.
"We cannot allow pharmaceutical companies to continue to profit at
the expense of the health, indeed the lives, of the majority of our
people," Vavi said.
He said Cosatu reiterated its call to Pfizer to reduce the high price
charged for Fluconazole.
The union also urged Pfizer and the government to make public their
negotiations on the price of Fluconazole.
He said Cosatu endorsed pressure the TAC had put on the Medicines
Control Council to test and certify the 3 000 generic capsules imported
"Cosatu, however, supports the rule of law and cannot support the
illegal importation of generic medicines by any institution, including
TAC," he said.
He said if the Constitutional Court and Medicines Control Council
to resolve the matter, the time would come when Cosatu would be
faced with the problem of whether or not to uphold the rule of law in
order to save human lives. - Sapa
James Love <firstname.lastname@example.org> http://www.cptech.org
Consumer Project on Technology, P.O. Box 19367, Washington, DC 200036
voice 1.202.387.8030 fax 184.108.40.20676