Wednesday 1st November
The pharmaceutical industry is hugely profitable, yet millions do not have access to medicine because the prices drug companies charge are so high.
Sibongile Tshabalala, national chair of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa, gave us a moving and inspiring talk. She said she thought she was going to die in 1996 when the Western pharmaceutical companies and governments aggressively blocked access to low-cost AIDs drugs for the countries of Africa and the global south. At that time, ten million people died unnecessarily, including her husband and many of her friends. However a group formed the TAC. They took the pharmaceutical companies to court and managed to get them to provide the drugs at reasonable prices. She said,
‘We fought for access to HIV drugs in South Africa, and now we’re fighting for access to essential breast cancer drugs, just as people here in the UK are, because the NHS can’t afford the rip off prices the companies are charging. We have a common struggle against the greed of Big Pharma.”
James O’Nions, campaigner with Global Justice Now, said,
“The extortionate prices charged by pharmaceutical corporations, even when drugs have been developed using taxpayers’ money, is a symptom of a broken system. It’s time to draw a line in the sand and demand drug development for people not profit”