An AIDS healthcare foundation urged Merck executives to change the company's pricing and access policies as it announced a new campaign in advertisement that criticizes an increase of up to six times the price of its AIDS drug Stocrin in Mexico and other middle-income countries.

The AHF advertisement campaign launched as Shame on Merck is planned to appear in several print outlets over the next two months.

We want to make policy makers and the public-at-large—including Merck's employees and New Jersey neighbors—aware of the striking inequity in Merck's corporate policies regarding its pricing of Stocrin in Mexico. said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation President.

The Foundation said that AIDS drug treatments that can cost as little as US $150 in what are designated less developed countries or low income countries in Latin America, can coast as much as $8,000 in Mexico meaning 9.5 percent more that an average person income which makes the treatment unaffordable for many.

Many patients' lives here in Mexico depend on access to drugs such as Stocrin that are available elsewhere at a much lower cost. We strongly urge Merck to immediately set access prices for its drug Stocrin in Mexico equal to the lowest available price in other middle-income countries to ensure that people in need in Mexico are not priced out of such potential lifesaving AIDS treatments. said Patricia Campos, M.D., AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Latin America Bureau Chief.

The group also said Merck hasn't kept its promise to distribute Atripla, the 3-in-1 AIDS treatment while Mexicans are forced to pay over $4,300 for the same three medicines separately.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the United States and assists HIV patients in Africa, Central America and Asia.

Shares of Merck were trading last at $39.10 up 46 cents in after hours electronic trade in the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.