Fire in the Blood follows the scandal of governments blocking access to affordable AIDS medication to highlight the injustice inherent in the protection of patents on medicine by large pharmaceutical manufacturers. The documentary lays out the facts by speaking to those directly involved in the crisis – there are no spectators commentating from afar. We hear from a former pharmaceutical CEO who is now speaking out against the industry, the men who have fought to produce non-branded medicine at cost prices, and those suffering from AIDS; some of whom have access to drugs and some who do not.
While the drugs needed to manage the AIDS virus cost roughly $1 a day per patient the fact that the patents are held by large corporation means that the annual cost for a patient is thousands of dollars rather than hundreds. Some countries allow for the production of “generic” drug which are chemically identical without the hefty price tag but this is not available worldwide. Fire in the Blood acts to expose this global catastrophe in which prices of medicine in third world countries are dictated by what Americans can afford.
The film has a strong opinion and is not shy about expressing it. Director Dylan Mohan Gray gets his point across deftly by letting those affected speak for themselves. No defence is offered because what is happening in the world of pharmaceuticals is indefensible. I think the film may have me convinced.
It’s tricky to review a documentary of this nature as I find myself talking more about the subject of the film rather than it’s quality. Following the screening I attended Gray held a Q&A for the assembled journalists and rather than talk about how the film was made the session quickly evolved into a passionate debate about the issue we had just been educated about. No one was taking the film lightly and at one point I thought two critics were going to have a fight. This did not happen at the King’s Speech press conference. The aim of Fire in the Blood is to inspire outrage in its audience and from the response I saw it is a roaring success.
Engrossing and important Fire in the Blood needs to be seen by as many people as possible and is on limited release in the UK from February 22nd.