USA: Jesuit shareholders swing weight for Africans

The Jesuit Provinces of Chicago, Detroit, Maryland and Oregon, members of the US Jesuit Committee for Investment Responsibility, have filed a shareholder resolution with Abbott Laboratories to make their HIV/AIDS drugs less expensive and more widely available in Africa. Abbott currently provides the drugs at the ?no-profit? price of approximately $650 per person per year, while other companies are donating them or providing them at cost. The resolution demands that Abbott increase ?availability of, and non-discriminatory access to, vaccines, sterile injection equipment, drugs, including anti-retroviral therapy, diagnostics and related technologies, as well as increased research and development.? At the end of 2000, 36.1 million people worldwide were living with HIV/AIDS, 75 percent of them in sub-Saharan Africa alone. ?This effort prioritises the needs of Africa,? said Rick Ryscavage SJ, national secretary for American Jesuit Social and International Ministries, ?and is one way for US Jesuits to respond.? The American Jesuits have a history of purchasing stock in companies for the purpose of changing unjust business practices. The 34th General Congregation exhorted the Society of Jesus ?to do whatever it can to change international attitudes and behaviour toward Africa.? The President of Abbott promised to make an announcement soon about lowering drug prices and increasing access in Africa. [HL20505]