Major pharmaceutical companies have launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign claiming that cheap generic HIV/AIDS drugs are not as effective as the exorbitantly priced branded drugs using false data.
Major pharmaceutical groups don’t want any cheap generic AIDS drugs in the market. But because of the high cost of AIDS drugs, some countries like Thailand and India have started producing generic versions and are distributing the drugs locally and abroad.
While drug companies like Abbot Laboratories, which have patent claim on its AIDS drugs, want these countries to stop producing them. They, along with other leading manufacturers, have started an ad campaign via their Lobby group US for Innovation.
The ads include full-page advertisements in World Street Journal and in Thai daily newspapers. The ads claim generic versions of the drugs are not as effective and they cite a study that shows those results. The only problem, according to several reports, is that the study was never done and the results are allegedly falsified.
The ad claims that locally made anti-retroviral GPO-VIR drugs produce an unacceptable resistance rate of up to 58% (a likelihood of 58% dying with such drugs), citing a study carried out by Mahidol University, Thailand’s premier medical school. In reality, Mahidol University never carried any such study, while a study carried out by another well known hospital, Siriraj Hospital, showed a better drug resistance rate, only 14%.
The war between Thailand and the multi-national pharmaceutical industry began after Thai Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla ordered the compulsory licensing of some HIV/AIDS medicines. This caused the drug manufacturer Abbott Laboratories to ban the life-saving drugs out of the Thai market.
Former US President Bill Clinton, head of the Clinton Foundation is distributing the cheap HIV/AIDS drugs to about 750,000 patients around the world. He also joined in the criticism of the big pharmaceutical companies, saying, "Abbott has been almost alone in its hard-line position here over what I consider to be a life and death matter."
There is no permanent cure for AIDS/HIV, and many can’t afford the pricier drugs from Abbott Laboratories and others so the generic ones are the best ones they can get. These cheap generic versions can be distributed to the poor in African and Asian countries, where many are dying in large numbers.