Endorse Open Letter for 5 March 2001

International Letter on SA Court Case

Copied below is the text of a letter that we would like you to support. The aim is to try to get it published as a letter to the editor in as many key newspapers around the world as possible, signed by as many groups as possible, on the 5th of March, in solidarity with South Africa as their court case with the pharmaceutical companies begins about legislation that would increase access to medicines.

The letter could also be used as text for an advertisement if groups in a country thought that appropriate and had the funds needed.

This letter is being sent out by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in South Africa and Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA) in UK to international contacts we know are working on this issue, but because we want as many groups as possible to sign up, please forward it to your own contacts.

To sign up to this `international letter on SA court case' please email campaigns@actsa.org with name of signatory, name of organisation and contact details. The deadline is 28 February.

On the 1 March we will send a complete list of signers to everyone. It may be helpful if each country could nominate a contact point for us to help co-ordinate the placement of this letter in the press in their country.

Please do also let us know is you are planning any solidarity actions or protests on the 5 March.
 
 
 

To: The Editor

Today [5 March] over forty of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies; including Boehringer-Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche - take the South African Government to court. They are fighting a law, that
was passed by the South African parliament and approved by Nelson Mandela, which would allow life-saving medicines to be imported from countries where they are cheaper. They claim that the law infringes intellectual property rights.

Nearly five million South Africans are living with HIV. But few can afford the drugs which have enabled richer countries to transform the disease from a killer into a manageable illness.

These companies, with the support of some Western governments, are protecting their monopolies at the expense of millions of lives. This legal action shows that the pharmaceutical industry is more concerned with staving off competition and protecting their high profit margins than with genuinely increasing access to medicines.

We believe that this lawsuit is legally flawed and morally reprehensible. We call on the companies involved to drop the case and on Western Governments to provide clear support to the South African Government as it strives to tackle the urgent HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Signed:
 
 

Many thanks & look forward to campaigning together.

In solidarity,

Mark Heywood
Deputy Chairperson
Treatment Action Campaign
tel: +27 11 717 8634
fax: +27 11 403 2341
email: HeywoodM@law.wits.ac.za

Aditi Sharma
Head of Campaigns
Action for Southern Africa
tel: +44 20 7833 3133
fax: +44 20 7 837 3001
email: aditi.sharma@actsa.org