The Abbott pharmaceutical company is withdrawing a 4000 euros subsidy it granted to Act Up-Paris - a subsidy intended to sponsor our activity at the international aids conference in Toronto. For what reason ? Because of a recent article published in our journal Protocoles - which provides information about new HIV treatments and research - on a new formula of Norvir, an anti-HIV treatment.
The article addresses a new formulation of Norvir, a medication recently released by Abbott and prescribed as a booster for certain antiproteases used in antiretroviral treatments. In its current formulation, Norvir must be kept at low temperature - in hot weather it must be kept in a refrigerator. This is, of course, not possible for everyone : sick persons living on the streets, in precarious accommodations, in detention facilities, or in shared housing with others intentionally kept unaware of his or her health condition. Of course, people living in developping countries, do need a new form, non-refrigerated, of Norvir.
It is on these grounds that we ask Abbott for an explanation. Abbott could have afforded to make a non-refrigerated version of Norvir quickly available. On the sole basis of market economics, however, the laboratory failed to do everything in its power to ensure its availability. They managed, nevertheless, to show that such a feat was possible with another product, Kaletra, now available as dry tablets that can be obtained through the Meltrex procedure.
This is the first time that a laboratory has put pressure on us for an article published in a review well recognised for its seriousness and rigour. It is indeed telling that a pharmaceutical like Abbott seems to care about sick people only when they play a role in their marketing strategy. The “partnership” as championed by Abbott cannot be used to silence the words of sick persons.
In the days leading up to the Toronto conference, these unfair dealings strengthen our determination to hold Abbott accountable for its actions. Two years ago, they increased the price of Norvir five-fold (which they justified, at the time, because of the research necessary to develop a product that would not have to be kept at low temperature) ; today, they refuse to lower the price of their other medication, Kaletra, in developing countries.
PWA’s will have a lot to say about Abbott at the Toronto conference.
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