In Solidarity with Tobeka Daki

Lawyers Collective Tobeka Statement of Lawyers Collective in solidarity with the “Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab”

7 February 2017

The Lawyers Collective joins people living with cancer and health groups across the world who are demonstrating today to call attention to the unethical and inhuman behaviour of Swiss multinational company Roche in denying access to trastuzumab which is used to treat HER2-positive breast cancer. First and foremost, Lawyers Collective condoles the death of Tobeka Daki. We were deeply saddened to hear of her passing in November last year. We salute Tobeka’s courage in fighting for access to trastuzumab not just for herself but for thousands of women in South Africa who are forced to run from pillar to post by Roche’s profiteering. We join our friends and colleagues in mourning for Tobeka and pledging to work towards fulfilling her vision of access to trastuzumab and other cancer medicines for all women who need them.

A key concern for women living with cancer who need this and other biologic cancer medicines is the availability and affordability of biosimilar versions of trastuzumab.  Most patients in search of affordable medicines turn to India and although trastuzumab biosimilars are now available in India, Roche is using multiple litigations to thwart and discourage biosimilar manufacturers from entering the market. We provide an overview of the situation in India below.

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Big Pharma Greed Kills Women!

Tomorrow more than 50 women living with cancer will join 500+ activists from the Treatment Action Campaign, Cancer Alliance, SECTION27, MSF, and other members of the Fix the Patent Laws coalition at a picket outside pharmaceutical company Roche. We will be highlighting our ongoing concerns over the excessive price of breast cancer medicine trastuzumab.

The picket will be in memory of Tobeka Daki. An activist who had been leading this call in 2016 but who sadly passed away without ever getting the chance to access trastuzumab.

In South Africa Roche holds multiple patents on trastuzumab (Herceptin) that may block more affordable biosimilars coming to market until 2033. Currently it costs around ZAR 211,920 for a year’s treatment course in the public sector and is only available in very limited circumstances. It is excluded from prescribed minimum benefits of private medical schemes because of the cost. Other developing countries face similar problems in accessing affordable trastuzumab.

In other parts of the world where the patents have expired, Roche is using different means to block access including litigating against biosimilar versions.

We stand with women with breast cancer and activists across the world to say “Roche Greed Kills”.

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