South African groups try to force further AIDS drug price cuts

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com September 27 2002 11:00 PM ET

South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign and the Congress of South African Trade Unions last week filed a complaint with the South African Competition Commission that seeks price cuts on anti-HIV drugs sold by pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline and Boehringer Ingelheim. The commission is an independent body that monitors fair competition in the sub-Saharan African nation. The complaint calls for the companies to be fined and ordered to change their pricing because current costs for the drugs are out of the financial reach of most people in the country. Both companies denied claims that their drug prices are excessive. TAC secretary Mark Heywood said the complaint is designed to have the commission rule that the companies are engaged in prohibitive pricing schemes, which would give people who can't afford the drugs the ability to sue the companies for compensation. A decision by the commission is expected later this fall.