Fire In The Blood
Kicking off my weekend of Film Festival fun with arguably the most difficult watch. The smallish crowd was either an indication of festival goers unwillingness to watch films before lunch, or a reflection of one of the documentaries central themes; that no one really cares about African AIDS victims.
Those that watched Fire In The Blood certainly came away with plenty to think about, and hopefully some righteous anger towards big pharmaceutical companies.
In essence the documentary shows irrefutable evidence that major pharmaceutical companies caused the preventable deaths of millions of people in third world countries by refusing to allow unbranded antiretroviral medications, manufactured by a reputable Indian firm, Cipla, to be exported around the world.
The problem being that the drugs in question, drugs that could save or at least extend the life of AIDS victims, were being sold for US$15,000 for a years supply. Affordable for American’s with health insurance, but so far out of reach for the people who needed it the most. The cruelty is that the actual cost to produce these drugs was around $300.
And before you take a stand and say that drug companies should be able to charge what they want for drugs they invented, be aware that Fire In The Blood’s statistics show that over 80% of drug research is funded by public money, and only a little over 10% is funded by pharmaceutical companies.
Fire In The Blood follows the struggle to have these antiretroviral drugs to be made available to those who need it the most, at affordable prices, and through many ups and downs the struggle is a success, thanks in many ways to India’s Cipla, who ended up producing the drug at a loss because they felt that it was more important for people to have access to the drug that for it to be a profit making venture.
But the story didn’t end there, the drug companies fought back, and the results are enough to make your blood boil.
Fire In The Blood certainly isn’t the happiest of subjects to be spending time in a dark room pondering, but it’s essential viewing for anyone who cares about the future of society. Be warned however, because if all you do is watch this documentary and discuss it over coffee with your friends, nothing will change. Take note, then take action.