HIV/AIDS: “Nationalise pharmaceutical industry”

Cutbacks put people’s lives at risk

"Mr President, 33 million people are currently living with HIV, 2.5 million people are newly infected every year, and over two million people die of AIDS annually. According to Irish Aid, HIV/AIDS is likely to become the leading cause of death in the 21st century. These shocking figures underline the need for a real response to this disease and unfortunately, in some respects, we are going in the wrong direction.

International financing for HIV programmes in the ex-colonial world has fallen by 10% in 2010. Even in Europe, as part of the massive cutbacks that are taking place in the public sector and in public services, cost-cutting measures have been introduced in relation to antiretroviral drugs, a move which, in reality, puts people’s lives at risk.

Important research has been conducted and important steps forward have been made in terms of increasing access to antiretroviral drugs with generic medicines and patent pills, but it is still not enough. The existence of patents that protect the pharmaceutical industry often means that those who need these drugs do not get access to them. Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry needs to be nationalised and run democratically in the interest of people not profit, and this needs to be accompanied by a substantial increase in internationally coordinated patent-free research to guarantee progress and access to improved HIV/AIDS drugs for all."

From a debate on 1 December 2011