Last updated: May 14, 2005

AIDS Activists Demand Brazil Issue Compulsory Licenses on Drugs

Minister Frederico S. Duque Estrada Meyer
Minister for Economic, Social and Humanitarian Affairs (3rd ranking after ambassador H. E. Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg) Click on photos for hi-resolution photos of NY action. Quicktime movies at the bottom of the page. (Photos may be used for publication without charge. Please simply inform john@outfm.org)

ACT UP * Student Global AIDS Campaign * Health GAP (Global Access Project)

(May 13, 2005, Manhattan and Washington DC)

At 12:30p on Friday, AIDS activists held simultaneous rallies at the Brazilian Embassy in Washington DC and Brazil's Mission to the United Nations in New York. Bearing signs with pictures of toothless tigers reading, "Minister Costa, Enough Toothless posturing, Compulsory Licensing of AIDS Drugs Now," and "Brazil Break the AIDS Drug Monopoly/Generic AIDS Drugs Now" activists called on the Brazilian Health Minister to show leadership and break the monopoly on costly HIV medicines.

Activists expressed their solidarity with Brazilian civil society groups who have called for an international campaign to pressure the Brazilian government to stand up to the exorbitant amounts charged by foreign drug companies. The US demonstrators called on Brazil to issue compulsory licenses for the generic production of 4 vital AIDS drugs.

In New York, two dozen activists from the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP, and members of Health Gap held a picket line in front of the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations. At the request of the demonstrators, Minister Estrada Meyer (UN Minister for Economic, Social and Humanitarian Affairs) came outside to receive the declaration and talk to press.

Activists told Brazilian Minister Frederico S. Duque Estrada Meyer that they are angry that the government failed act when drug companies refused to meet the deadline for completion of voluntary drug licenses negotiations. Demonstrators also presented Minister Meyer with a spine they urged the Brazilian government to use to stand tall against the multinational pharmaceutical industry.

Protestors noted Brazil's courage when it refused to censor its highly effective AIDS prevention program as a condition for receiving US AIDS prevention money. Activists encouraged Brazil to again show its courage by using the teeth of compulsory licensing against the AIDS drug monopoly that is engaged in unethical price gouging. Some activists carried signs depicting the three drug companies who are refusing to issue reasonable voluntary licenses as a Cerberus, a three headed dog which prevents the dead from leaving hell.

In Washington, around 15 activists arrived at the Brazilian embassy holding a six foot spine made of foam with a sign saying "Brazil's spine." They gave short speeches on the importance of using the maximum flexibilities in TRIPS, the W.T.O trade agreement permiting compulsory licensing, urging the government to stand up to the powerful pharmaceutical industry, maintaining the reputation Brazil's national AIDS program and ensuring universal access for all people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.

The activists attempted to deliver the civil society statement and foam spine to the DC embassy officials, although they only made it through the first set of doors before being locked out. They knocked and chanted repeatedly, but were not allowed any further into the embassy. They read the civil society statement aloud in front of the building to the group and media and left the spine and their signs hanging on the front entrance.

Tiny quicktime movie of picket line  
Movie of Brazilian official receiving spine on behalf of govt.