Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
Merck Remains Committed To Providing HIV/AIDS Drugs At No Profit In Developing Nations, Company Head Writes in New York Times Letter
Merck's "commitment to remember that medicines are for the people" is demonstrated by the drug maker's sale of HIV/AIDS medications "at no profit in more than 50 countries that are most affected by the pandemic," Raymond Gilmartin, chair, president and CEO of Merck, writes in a New York Times letter to the editor in response to an opinion piece published last week (Gilmartin, New York Times, 3/22). In a March 15 opinion piece, Larry Kramer, co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis and founder of the HIV/AIDS activist group ACT UP, wrote that people with HIV/AIDS "do not have time for governments and drug companies to battle endlessly over patent rights and who can manufacture generic versions of life-saving drugs." Almost every HIV/AIDS drug on the market "has already more than paid for its development in spades, and also earned millions of dollars in additional profit for its makers," Kramer wrote, adding that "[it] is time to throw out the selfish notion that [drug] companies have the right not to share their patents. ... A new world prescription must be written immediately" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/17). In his letter, Gilmartin writes that treating HIV/AIDS with drugs is not "simple," because "[e]ven when medicines are free, those who need them often don't get them." Gilmartin writes, "Despite strong national leadership, the commitment of $100 million and free medicines, only after two years are significant numbers of people gaining treatment" (New York Times, 3/22).
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