AIDS Activists Disrupt Bristol-Myers Christmas Party in Protest of Drug Prices
A groups of activists from the New York chapter of ACT UP yesterday "crash[ed]" a Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Christmas party at the company's Manhattan headquarters, in protest of the higher prices the drug maker is charging for its newest anti-HIV drug, Reuters/Excite News reports. Protester Mark Milano explained that the group "wanted to see the company's chief executive officer ... But instead, we ran smack into a Christmas party with food and carols and never saw the CEO." While the party was happening on the 44th floor, several protesters ran through the company's third floor offices, distributing flyers and chanting "Greed-Death." Both groups were promptly ejected from the building by security officers. Bristol-Myers Squibb has developed a new "enteric" formulation of its drug Videx, and the once-daily capsule is now easier to swallow and easier on the gastrointestinal tract. But Milano said that AIDS Drug Assistance Programs, state-implemented programs to provide discounted anti-HIV drugs to poor patients, cannot afford the new form of Videx, which costs 30% more than the original. A spokesperson for Bristol-Myers said that the company gives an 18% discount to ADAPs on Videx, and has spent "tens of millions of dollars" performing research for improved drug versions. In April, ACT UP members "invaded" Pfizer's shareholders' meeting and held protests outside of its hotel location, calling for the drug giant to supply the AIDS drug Diflucan to South Africa, a move Pfizer agreed to last month (Reuters/Excite News, 12/20).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.