Last 3 of July, during a meeting with several organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS in South Korea, the president general director of Roche-Korea, Mr Uls Flueckiger asserted its contempt towards people living with HIV/AIDS. During the same meeting, a patient who’s treatment was failing, and was in urgent need of Fuzeon, attended the meeting ; Mr Flueckiger, full of arrogance, simply refused to listen to his story.
Last 28th of September, via a press release signed by many organizations of many countries, South-Korean activists have called the international HIV/AIDS community to join a global week of actions against the Swiss Drug Company Roche, to protest against Roche’s Policy to suspend the negotiations on Fuzeon with South-Korean government instead of cutting its prices. While South Korea proposed $18,000 for Fuzeon per patient per year, Roche wanted $22,000. In South Korea, the GDP per capita is $20,000. Roche charges the same price than in a country like the United States, where the GDP is $46,000. Moreover, South Korea — because the World Bank has listed it as a ‘High Income’ country — is not eligible to apply to the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. That means that the Global Fund does not pay for the purchase of treatments. Roche is refusing to cut its prices, with the excuse that Korea ‘is able to pay’, and leaving people living with HIV/AIDS in treatment failure without the drugs they need. Roche’s behavior is deadly.
To denounce Roche’s infamy, South Korean activists have called the international HIV/AIDS community to rally a week of actions (between the 1st and the 7th of October). Organizations of people living with HIV/AIDS have denounced during this week of actions the behavior — full of contempt and cynicism — of Roche. The day after the announcement of this week of action, Roche got in touch with Act Up Paris.
While Roche straight away got in touch with NGOs from the global north, as Act Up-Paris, it has repeatedly delayed getting in touch with activists from South Korea.
Act Up Paris’ spokesperson denounced Roche for refusing to speak to South Korean activists, and tried to link Roche to the South Korean activists. But, a week later, Roche still has not called South Korean activists — while simultaneously the activists have demonstrated every single day in front of Roche Korea’s head office (link to pictures). In Paris, the 3th of October, Act Up-Paris organized a demonstration in front of Roche-France head offices in Neuilly-sur-Seine. An hour after, a delegation was received by Deborah Szafir, the head of communication of Roche-France, who asserted : ‘that the parent company in Basel was taking the commitment to find an acceptable arrangement on the prices’. On Monday, within a release (only) sent to Act Up-Paris, Roche continued to answer to the questions asked by South Korean activists. The only answer brought by Roche was to transfer the responsibility of the failure of the negotiations on Fuzeon on South Korean government.
Regarding the possibility for South Korea to issue a compulsory license on Fuzeon, the president of Roche-Korea, Mr Flueckiger cynically asserted on the 3rd of July that South Korea have not had the possibility to produce Fuzeon and that the patent was not the problem.
Usually, to justify the very high cost of its drugs, Roche points to the cost of new research and development. But, in July 2008, Roche announced that it was ending all research on HIV/AIDS.
Nowadays, to justify the very high price of Fuzeon, Roche constantly points to the cost of the fusion inhibitor and its complexity to manufacture. The activist community has demanded that Roche release its costs of production, in the highest transparency and in the most exact way as possible. Indeed, if Fuzeon is that complex and challenging to manufacture and sell, Roche should not be that reluctant to release documentation of the cost of production. The reality is that Roche is not willing to supply its drugs for all, and it is very difficult to believe that Roche is uninterested in sales of Fuzeon, when we know that in 2007, sales of Fuzeon totaled over $266.8 million .
Roche’s cynicism and systematic abuse its position of strength on people living with HIV/AIDS has already taken too much time. If Roche continues to refuse to accept South Korean activists’ claims, and to cut its prices in Korea, we demand :
Roche must renounce to its patent on Fuzeon since it refuses make it available for everyone
The South Korean government must issue a compulsory license on Fuzeon, as well as on all other Roche HIV treatments.
All countries issue CLs on Roche HIV drugs.
Some pictures of the Global Week of actions against Roche are also available.
South Korea : Korea HIV/AIDS Network of Solidarity / Nanuri+, HIV/AIDS Human Rights Advocacy Group of Korea / Public Pharmaceutical Center / Solidarity for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Human Rights of Korea / Korean Gay Men’s Human Rights Group / Sarangbang, Group for Human Rights / Health Right Network / Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights / Association of Korea Doctors for Health Rights / Association of Physicians for Humanism / Korea Dentists Association for Health Society / Korea Health and Medical Workers Union / Korean Pharmacists for Democratic Society / People’s Solidarity for Social Progress / Intellectual Property Left / Korean Progressive Network Jinbonet / Korea Leukemia Patient Group / Solidarity for New Progressive Party / FOR PEOPLE PWLH GROUP (LOVE4ONE / South Korea) / NNHAP(Nopi Narara Hiv Aids Positive / South Korea) / Democratic Labor Party (South Korea) / Sexual Minority Committee of the Democratic Laber Party(South Korea) / Solidarity for People’s Health Rights (South Korea) / Kapf (Korea HIV/AIDS Positive Federation, South Korea) / Solidarity ofHuman Rights Groups
Cameroon : MOCPAT / Positive generation / China : China Global Fund Watch Initiative / France : Act Up-Paris / Aides / Avocats pour la santé dans le monde / Coalition PLUS / India : Global Health Advocates, India / Safe Sailors’ Club - The Humsafar Trust / Morocco : ALCS-Maroc / Switzerland : Global Health Advocates, SW. / Thailand : AIDS Access Foundation-Thailand / Thai Network of People living with HIV/AIDS / United States : ACT UP-New York / ACT UP Philadelphia / Health GAP, Student Global AIDS Campaign (SGAC)
 Roche to suspend HIV research, seing no advances, 11.07.08, Reuters
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