South Africa : Pfizer
must yield to HIV people
A Report from the Business Day on the Campaign to
Reduce the Price of Fluconazole
14 march 2000
Activists meet Pfizer over prices
PFIZER, the US pharmaceutical manufacturer, faces
local and international action from AIDS activists to
reduce the price of an antifungal drug used in the
treatment of AIDS infections.
Representatives of the Treatment Action Campaign met
Pfizer SA's CEO, Barry Smith, yesterday in Johannesburg
to place the group's demands before him.
The campaign has asked Pfizer to cut its price of
fluconazole, marketed in SA as Diflucan.
If it cannot cut the price, it has been asked to give
a manufacturing license to the campaign to produce or
import a cheap generic form of the drug.
Failing this, the campaign will ask for a compulsory
licence to make the drug available at low prices. Pfizer
has been given seven days to answer the request.
The campaign would like the price of each 200mg tablet
provided to the public sector to be dropped to around R3
a tablet. The 200mg tablet is not supplied on tender to
the public sector at present, but the 150mg tablet is
supplied at R36,33 a tablet. The 150mg tablet is
available from private sector pharmacies for anything up
to R126 a tablet.
Dr Eric Goemaere of the Action Campaign said that
fluconazole's price had "nothing to do with the
A generic equivalent of the drug is available in
Thailand at R3 a tablet and it should therefore be
possible, he said, to provide the drug at a much reduced
cost in SA.
Before the meeting with Pfizer, union representatives
in the delegation said industrial action was possible if
Pfizer found itself unable to co-operate.
Mark Heywood of the AIDS Law Project at Wits
University, who headed the delegation, said Pfizer
undertook to give some indication of its direction within
the week, but decisions around the action would be dealt
with by its head office in New York.