In Philadelphia, AIDS Activists and Seniors Join to Fight Pharmaceutical Patents
Philadelphia AIDS activists "enlisted" senior citizens' groups yesterday to help "attack alleged patent abuses by multinational drug companies," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Members of ACT UP/Philadelphia and the Gray Panthers, a senior citizens' group with 50,000 members nationwide, joined together yesterday at a press conference at the University of Pennsylvania to accuse Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. of "deceiving" federal regulators last fall when it won a 30-month patent extension to delay generic competition against the firm's antianxiety drug, BuSpar, used "widely" in nursing homes and by AIDS patients with drug and alcohol dependencies. The Panthers yesterday filed with the Federal Trade Commission an official complaint against the drug maker. The FTC is already investigating a "similar" complaint against Bristol-Myers over the anticancer drug Taxol. By joining with the "powerful senior citizen lobby, which is upset about high domestic drug prices," AIDS activists hope to "win industry concessions on affordable medicines for HIV and AIDS in Africa." At yesterday's meeting Panthers' Executive Director Timothy Fuller said that the organization "stands in solidarity" with AIDS activists in the fight for low-cost generic drugs. Pharmaceutical companies defend the patent protections, saying generic versions of patented drugs "diminish revenue needed to pay for drug research and development." A spokesperson for Bristol-Myers said that the patent extension was listed with the FDA "in full accordance with the law" (Collins, Philadelphia Inquirer, 2/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.