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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The Dignity of Protest

Stand Up, Speak Up, Speak Out: The Dignity of Protest
By Eric Friedman

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Show up, dive in, stay at it,” implored President Obama in his recent farewell address. In a different context, Congressman John Lewis (the civil rights leader best known for his courage in leading a peaceful 1965 march for voting rights, during which he was severely beaten by state troopers as the march got underway in Selma, Alabama), who serves as a moral compass for so many, including myself, also recently spoke of the need to “stand up, speak up, and speak out.”

I expect that over the next several years, in the United States, many people will be in the streets, standing up and speaking up, as the next administration takes charge amid widespread fear that it will seek to roll back a sweeping array of human right and social justice advances. Yet probably far more people who deeply oppose what appears to lie ahead will not join the marches, rallies, and other avenues of peaceful protest. One reason: quite understandably, they may feel – as many of those who decide to march or otherwise make their voices heard might feel as well – that those in power in Washington will pay them no heed. What good is protesting, they may wonder, if when they speak truth to power, no one listens?

Yet with good reason, such protests have long been at the core of social justice movements – and are at the heart of what we need to do when justice is on the line in the days and years ahead. I believe we need to speak out whenever we see injustice – even when there appears little chance that those who hold office will heed our call. Here are reasons why.

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