PRESS RELEASE: Activists stage dramatic tug of war between Pharma Corporations & the people during DNC


UAEM, the Other 98%, ACT UP, and other activists came together to stage a creative protest demanding affordable drug prices both here in the U.S. and abroad

Leading up to the DNC, student advocates and others call for the next president of the United States to intervene and make medicines invented using taxpayer money off-patent in l0w- and middle-income countries and no more expensive here in the U.S. than they are in other high-income countries

PHILADELPHIA, PA—On Saturday, July 23rd, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM), the Other 98%, Act Up and other activist groups held a theatrical demonstration outside Hillary Clinton‘s Philadelphia campaign headquarters. The protesters staged a tug-of-war between the people and “pharma bro” and his posse, representing pharmaceutical corporations, in order to highlight that Clinton has not explicitly sided with the public when it comes to enacting price controls for medicines invented here in the United States. Protesters specifically urged Secretary Clinton not to back away from her pledges to make medicines more affordable in low and middle income countries and to get HIV/AIDS treatment to 30 million people by the year 2020.

During her electoral campaign in 2008, Secretary Clinton publicly pledged that she would make taxpayer-funded medicines “off-patent in developing countries” and has included in her platform putting an end to pharmaceutical corporations’ price gouging but she has yet to renew her pledge during the 2016 election. Additionally, she has shied away from the pledge she made earlier on the 2016 campaign trail concerning access to antiretrovirals, failing to even mention this topic in recent months. Clinton’s previous opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, published a blog just last week in the Huffington Post entitled “Taxpayers Funded a Lifesaving Drug And Guess What Happened Next?” advocating for the U.S. government to take action to lower drug prices. No similar declaration has yet been made by the Clinton campaign.

UAEM and our allies took to the streets on Saturday and marched from the Love Statue in Philadelphia’s City Hall Park while chanting and carrying banners and signs which read, “No monopolies on taxpayer-invented drugs” and “We pay too much for meds we already paid to invent”. UAEM students, staff, ACT UP members and local activists squared off against “pharma bro” played by comedian John F. O’Donnell from RT’s “Redacted Tonight”, who was accompanied by several other well-known pharmaceutical CEOs, including Martin Shkreli, portrayed using larger-than-life masks and carrying giant money bags.  After several rounds of verbal and physical sparring, activists dropped the rope and sent the pharma bros tumbling to the ground explaining to the crowd that it is not pharma we need to win over if we want to change how drugs are priced but rather the U.S. government. The protesters from the people’s side attempted to deliver their demands for the U.S. government directly to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, but they were barred from entering the building by about 30 members of Philadelphia police on bicycles.

Check out the video from Saturday featuring interviews with a number of UAEMers!



UAEM North America is currently running a national campaign to “Take Back Our Meds” advocating for the National Institutes of Health to adopt provisions in their grants that guarantee affordability of any medical product developed using federal, taxpayer funds.

For more information and for how to get involved:

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