FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: July 11, 1996
Bloodbath in Vancouver ! Activists Asked To
Leave Canada After Crashing AIDS Conference Combo Therapy Promo
ACT UP SF members drench panel members Paul Volberding and Margaret
Fischl with fake blood to protest promotion of combination antiviral therapies
that destroy the immune system
Vancouver, B.C. - Yesterday, nearly ten years after the approval of
the first AIDS treatment, AZT, members of the controversial militant AIDS
activist group ACT UP San Francisco crashed a panel discussion about the
drug's use in combination with other antiviral agents held during the 11th
International Conference on AIDS. AIDS activists renounced the "drugs
into bodies"credo and demanded that Glaxo-Wellcome, AZT's manufacturer,
immediately cease production of the compound and that AIDS researchers
shift the focus of anti-HIV treatment from "killing the virus"
to strengthening the immune system.
Chanting "Margaret Fischl: You're A Fraud! You Gave AZT The Nod!"
and "Volberding: Your Lies Kill! AZT's A Toxic Pill!" twenty
irate activists from ACT UP SF stormed into the pharmaceutical industry
panel discussion "Guidelines for Antiretroviral Therapy: Bringing
The State-Of-The-Art To Clinical Practice." The presentation announced
recommendations for the administration of combination antiviral therapy
as outlined in the July 10th JAMA article "Antiretroviral Therapy
For HIV Infection in 1996: Recommendations of an International Panel."
Over 2,000 stunned conference attendees, packed into two grand ballrooms,
looked on in silence as ACT UP members threw red dollar bills labeled "Glaxo
Blood Money", unfurled a banner and soaked dazed and speechless panelists
with liters of fake blood. AIDS activists charged panel members Margaret
Fischl and Paul Volberding with murder for instituting and maintaining
a scientifically flawed, yet highly profitable, AIDS treatment approach
that urges people with HIV infection to combat the disease with potent
regimens of immune suppressive agents.
Kicking over chairs, throwing microphones, smashing glasses and overturning
conference tables, protesters demanded an immediate end to the practice
of treating AIDS patients with dangerous chemotherapeutic agents. The activists
asserted that the therapies hyped during the week-long conference such
as AZT, ddI, ddC and protease inhibitors impair the immune system's natural
ability to fight HIV and control the opportunistic infections that kill
people with AIDS. The symposium was delayed over an hour as panel members
frantically attempted to clean up their mess.
Two ACT UP SF demonstrators, David Pasquarelli and Medea Lopez, were
arrested and jailed for assault and criminal mischief. The charges were
later dropped and Canadian immigration officials demanded that the AIDS
activists leave the country by Friday, July 12 at 12:00 a.m.
ACT UP presented evidence that both Fischl and Volberding have accepted
pharmaceutical industry pay-offs to conduct experiments testing AZT and
other antivirals in humans. In fact, it was on the basis of information
from Fischl's 1987 drug trial that AZT was approved; a trial that was years
later exposed as unreliable and poorly conducted and whose data was branded
as fraudulent by prominent AIDS researchers and statisticians.
The demonstrators harshly criticized both the panel discussion and journal
article announced at the presentation as nothing more than an advertisement
campaign masquerading as science. The discussion was underwritten by an
alliance of drug companies including Glaxo-Wellcome, Bristol-Meyers Squibb,
Hoffmann-La Roche, Roxanne Laboratories, Chiron Corporation, Agouron, Merck,
and Abbott Laboratories.
"This entire AIDS conference was bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical
industry as a way to hype their deadly drugs," commented AIDS dissident
Todd Swindell. "These companies concoct expensive products; fund and
execute tests of them on humans to generate fraudulent data supporting
their supposed efficacy; and buy off mainstream AIDS organizations and
conferences to then push these unproven compounds down the throats of people
with AIDS. The entire AIDS treatment approach is murderously misdirected
and must change now!"
ACT UP San Francisco demanded that:
1) Glaxo-Wellcome immediately stop the production of AZT since the
agent was approved on the basis of a faulty clinical trial that yielded
2) The U.S. Government halt all clinical trials that utilize AZT as
part of the treatment protocol
3) The U.S. Government initiate a class action lawsuit against Glaxo
to compensate the families of those persons with AIDS whose lives were
destroyed by the drug.
4) AIDS researchers sever all financial ties with pharmaceutical companies;
including stock options, grants, consultation fees, honoria and reimbursement
fees for travel expenses.
5) AIDS researchers replace the current "kill the virus with toxic
drugs" treatment paradigm with an immune-based therapeutic strategy
that focuses on improving overall health and strengthening the cellular
immune response that is deficient in AIDS.
ACT UP members stated that their demonstration in Vancouver was only
the beginning. They vowed to escalate their direct action tactics to end
conflict of interest in AIDS research and confront the promotion of dangerous
chemotherapeutic agents as a method of treating an immune deficiency syndrome.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Michael Bellefoutaine in Vancouver: (604) 240-4967
Todd Swindell in Vancouver: (604) 240-4152 ACT UP SF Vancouver Hotline:
(604) 980-4547 ext. 324 ACT UP SF San Francisco Hotline: (415) 522-2907
Press photos and video footage of the "Vancouver Bloodbath"
are available upon request. For more information on this or other ACT UP
SF actions contact us at (415) 522-2907. Our mailing address is 1388 Haight
Street, #218, San Francisco, CA 94117. Fax: (415) 834-0243; Email: email@example.com.