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ACT UP/NY Invades DuPont Pharmaceuticals Office

Protest High Price of Sustiva:
Once A Day AIDS Drug

By Ann Northrop
ACT UP/New York

dupont.jpg - 50.38 K At about 10:45am Thursday, Oct. 29th, four members of ACT UP/New York invaded a DuPont office in midtown Manhattan, demanding DuPont Pharmaceuticals agree to meet with state AIDS Drug Assistance Program directors about the outrageously high price on Sustiva, the new, once-a-day AIDS drug.

Four states (New York, California, Pennsylvania and Texas) have refused to put Sustiva in their programs because its enormous cost (c. $5000/year) could bankrupt their programs. DuPont Pharmaceuticals' president, Nicholas Teti, has previously refused such a meeting.

The AIDS activists walked through the reception area of DuPont's New York operation, into the offices, went right to a bank of windows facing Broadway between 39th and 40th Streets and hung a banner out the window reading "DuPont Pharma: Greed = Death."

They also taped posters in the windows facing Broadway. The ACT UP members refused to leave before speaking to Teti and getting his pledge to meet with state ADAP directors. Office security tried to evict the protesters and called in half a dozen New York City police officers, who threatened arrests.

But the activists held their ground and refused to budge. Managers in the New York DuPont office (which works on textile issues, not pharmaceuticals) then got Mr. Teti's office on the phone and negotiations commenced. Teti assistant Bob Perkins talked to the activists.

After about twenty minutes of discussion, Perkins made two pledges: 1. DuPont Pharmaceuticals president Nicholas Teti and research director Laurent Fisher will meet with state ADAP directors within two weeks--probably much sooner. 2. Teti and Fisher will meet with ACT UP members next week.

In return, the activists agreed to leave the New York DuPont office peacefully, which we did. DuPont even returned our banner, which they had confiscated.

sustiva.gif - 2.81 K "This was a big win," said Mark Milano of ACT UP/New York. "Before this, DuPont had lied about its willingness to lower the price of Sustiva, as well as refusing to meet with the state ADAP directors. But this is not the end. ACT UP will continue to demand reasonable pricing and will not go away until DuPont actually lowers the price of Sustiva. We will also monitor Glaxo Wellcome and Agouron Pharmaceuticals, both of which are about to release new AIDS drugs, to make sure those drugs are affordable."

Unlike Medicaid programs, state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs have set amounts to spend on drugs each year. As more and more people stay alive and have to take multi-drug combinations, overpriced drugs like Sustiva are forcing some states to drop other essential medications or end new patient enrollments entirely.
Act Up New York's Ann Northrop:

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