Access to Medicines Now!

Access to MedicinesACCESS TO MEDICINES IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT

On International Women’s Day (Wednesday 8th March 2017) this letter was issued by the Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab to the Human Rights Council, as they convened a panel discussion on access to medicines in the context of the right to health.
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Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

Dear High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein,

We are writing to you from the Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab in South Africa on the occasion of International Women’s Day to highlight the gross injustice faced by women across the globe in many low and middle income countries who cannot access lifesaving cancer treatments due to the exorbitant pricing of the pharmaceutical industry.

The Tobeka Daki Campaign launched a month ago on 7th February 2017. The campaign is in loving memory of a fearless activist who lead the struggle to ensure access to breast cancer treatment for women in South Africa. Despite being prescribed trastuzumab, a WHO essential medicine for the treatment of HER2+ breast cancer, Tobeka was never able to access the treatment due to its high cost. In South Africa, the annual price charged by Swiss multinational company Roche in the private sector is around US$ 38,365. The few public facilities which can access trastuzumab do so at a lower price of around US$ 15,735 per year. But, health economists have shown that a year’s worth of trastuzumab can be produced and sold for only US$ 240, a price that includes a 50% increase above the cost of production for profit.

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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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