AIDS campaigners presented 24,414 signed action cards to baby product manufacture Johnson and Johnson on Wednesday, urging them to join the Medicine Patent Pool.
The company, which produces vital HIV drugs, has in the past refused to join the pool, denying millions of people access to life-saving treatments. But campaigners hope that the commitment of thousands to the patent pool campaign will push the company into joining.
Johnson and Johnson produces several HIV drugs and partly owns the rights to Darunavir, an expensive medicine which is not widely available. Generic access to the drug could help thousands of people living with HIV whose current medication is failing them. Student Stop AIDS Campaigners, have for the past year, been urging them to join the Medicine Patent pool, where companies hand over their patent rights and allow generic companies to make and sell their drugs at affordable prices.
Student Stop AIDS Campaign coordinator, Lotti Rutter said: “Johnson and Johnson refusing the join the patent pool conflicts with their public image and their child friendly “No More Tears” slogan. They are turning their backs on an initiative which could help millions of children and adults gain access to vital HIV treatment.”
Since launching the patent pool campaign in January the Student Stop AIDS Campaigners have already successfully encouraged several major pharmaceutical companies to join, including Viiv andGilead. Campaigners stepped up their pressure on Johnson and Johnson in March, with more than 100 people staging a “pool party” protest outside Johnson and Johnson offices and aroundLondon.
They also used social media to challenge the company to take action, using Facebook and Twitter to get the message across and urge the company to take action. As well as signing the action cards thousands of people went online to put their name to a petition to get Johnson and Johnson to join the patent pool.
Lotti said: “There has been so much support for the campaign; we just hope that this time Johnson and Johnson listen and join the Medicine Patent Pool.”
Johnson and Johnson are due to announce their decision on 19 December at a Medicine Patent Pool meeting.