Stop Bargaining over Life! - A statement of Korean NGOs on the Common Action Day


30 April 2007
In January, the Government of Thailand ordered compulsory license on three pharmaceutical substances including Kaletra (Abbott). Thailand is running 'Thai Program of Universal Subsidized Access to AIDS Treatment' from 2004 and 80 thousand patients are benefited from this program. Drugs for second-line treatment are about 14 times more expensive than the first-line drugs. Thereforesecuring inexpensive second-line drug is essential for the success of this program. If Thailand cannot supply these medicines, many patients would have to die.

Compulsory license is a measure to make balance between patent right of the patent holder and health right of the public, and is essential to secure the health right of Thai people.
Abbott announced that they would lower the price of Kaletra from 2200$/year to 1000$/year in 40 countries. This reveals that Abbott has been enjoying extra profitof 1200$ per year per patient. Don't they know that this amount of money could be a matter of life and death to patients in the third world? Moreover, Abbott lowered the price for the sake of securing its exclusive right on Kaletra, not for patients' life.
Patients in Korea also are suffering from expensive medicines. In 2001, leukemia patients had to pay 6000-8000 dollars a month to buy Glivec. When patients asked Novartis to lower the price, Novartis replied that it won't sell Glivec in Korea.
Glivec is not the only case. BMS is preparing to sell even more expensive leukemia drug than Glivec, and Roche stopped supplying one of its product in Korea because it was not satisfied with the price. Moreover, as now Korea has reached agreement on KORUS FTA, the door is wide open to Big Pharmas to enjoy lucrative profit.
Korean Government changed the National Health Insurance and Medicare system and restricted access to medicine and medical care to save 380 million USD in its budget in a year. However, by KORUS FTA, National Health Insurance will have to pay extra 1 billion USD to the Big Pharmas every year.
Korean Government should follow Thai Government that endeavors to supply inexpensive medicines to its patients.
We strongly support the compulsory license ordered by the Thai government. Compulsory license is an important device to provide essential medicine in a stable base, and to prevent erroneous high-pricing policy of Big Pharmas. Whether we live in Thailand, Korea, or the US, we are in same position ofbeing extorted by Big Pharmas. That's why we stand here to express our solidarity with Thai people.
Today is the common action day to support the decision of Thai government and to condemn Abbott for bargaining over patients' life. Patients and activists of Great Britain, France, USA, India, Germany, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, Kenya, Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, China, Vietnam, and Indonesia are joining this common action today. We will fight together with patients all over the world to support the compulsory license that the Thai government has ordered. We will also continue to fight against KORUS FTA and drug policies that make drugs more expensive.
Here is our request.
- We request Abbott to stop its attempts to block compulsory license on medicine.
- We request Abbott to lower the price of Kaletra in every country.
- We request Abbott to supply Kaletra to every country where there are HIV/AIDS patients.
- We request Abbott and other Big Pharmas to stop their attempt to change the law and systems of countries in favor of their profit.
- We request Korean Government to break KORUS FTA that ensures the profit of Big Pharmas.
Korean Federation of Medical Groups for Health Rights (KFHR)
[Association of Physicians for Humanism/ Association of Korea Doctors for Health Rights/ Korea Dentists Association for Health Society/ Korean Pharmacists For Democratic Society/ Solidarity for Worker's Health]
Solidarity for HIV/AIDS Human Rights of Korea NANURI+
[Public Pharmaceutical Center/ Korean Pharmacists For Democratic Society/Sarangbang group for Human Rights/ Solidarity for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Human Rights of Korea/ Korean gaymen's Human Rights Group 'Chingusai' ]
Health Right Network
Consolidation for Medical Consume
Solidarity for People's Health Rights(SPHR)
People's Solidarity for Social Progress
Intellectual Property Left (IPLeft)
Korea HIV/AIDS Network of Solidarity (KANOS)
Korea Leukemia Patients Group