Monday, May 29, 2006

Children and AIDS

One should point out obscenity where there is true obscenity (and I don't mean Anna Nicole Smith boobies hanging out at the Supreme Court).

More than 2 million kids have HIV

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — More than 2 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV, almost all in sub-Saharan Africa where there is no access to treatment and death almost certain, seven leading child advocacy organizations said. "We are failing children," said Dean Hirsch, chairman of the Global Movement for Children, which issued an urgent appeal to governments, donors and the pharmaceutical industry to recognize a child's right to treatment as fundamental.

The movement, made up of seven organizations, released a report Friday that painted a grim picture of the impact of the disease on children: 700,000 children were infected with the HIV virus in 2005, bringing the total to 2.3 million, and 570,000 died of AIDS — one every minute.

Less than 5% of HIV-positive children have access to the pediatric AIDS treatment they desperately need, the report said. (emphasis added)
First, there will never be a "cure" for AIDS, at least what we know about it at this time. HIV is a latent virus, along with Herpes II and Hepatitis B. A latent virus inserts its DNA into the DNA of the host. You can't get it out. Perhaps we will have a successful vaccine someday, though that is looking doubtful. Until that time, we can successfully treat AIDS with drugs. That's where pharmaceutical companies come in. They make drugs. And market them. And test them.

(If you haven't seen the movie "The Constant Gardener," or read the book by John le Carre, you might find out a lot about how pharmaceutical companies operate in Africa. The basic answer is, not very well.)

In any case, there are now a number of drugs on the market for AIDS. This site gives a list. Here are some of them:
Norvir® (ritonavir), by Abbott Laboratories
Reyataz® (atazanavir), by Bristol-Myers Squibb
Kaletra® capsules (lopinavir + ritonavir), by Abbott Laboratories
Crixivan® (indinavir), by Merck & Co.

Lexiva® (fosamprenavir), by GlaxoSmithKline
Invirase® (saquinavir), by Hoffmann-La Roche
It is true that pharmaceutical companies have to spend money to develop these drugs, but not that much. (for a good discussion of this see the New York Review of Books article by Marcia Angell: The Truth About Drug Companies). However, they also make a lot of money. Here is a summary of what the CEO's of three of the companies listed above made from here:
Miles D. White
Chief Executive Officer, Abbott Laboratories
In 2004, Miles D. White raked in $11,298,642 in total compensation including stock option grants* from Abbott Laboratories.
And Miles D. White has another $21,450,196 in unexercised stock options from previous years.

Peter R. Dolan
Chief Executive Officer, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
In 2004, Peter R. Dolan raked in $8,796,679 in total compensation including stock option grants* from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.
And Peter R. Dolan has another $1,471,145 in unexercised stock options from previous years.

Richard T. Clark
Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co. Inc.
In 2005, Richard T. Clark raked in $1,972,596 in total compensation including stock option grants* from Merck & Co. Inc..
That means that three men made: $22,067,917 in one year and had $22,921,341 additional stock options (total = $44,989,258). I call that obscene.

Particularly when, in the same year, 570,000 children died of AIDS, one every minute,


No comments: