[Ip-health] Tobeka Daki Campaign letter to UN Human Rights Council

Lotti Rutter lotti.rutter at mail.tac.org.za
Wed Mar 8 01:49:43 PST 2017


 Dear all,

Please find below the text of a letter sent by the Tobeka Daki Campaign for
Access to Trastuzumab to the Human Rights Council today as they convene a
panel discussion on access to medicines in the context of the right to
health.

Thanks
Lotti

------

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein,

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Email: zraad at ohchr.org



cc:



Ms. Kate Gilmore,

United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights

Email: kgilmore at ohchr.org



Chair of the session:

Her Excellency Ms. Maria Nazareth Farani Azevêdo
Ambassador Permanent Representative

Email: delbrasgen at itamaraty.gov.br



South African Permanent Mission to the UN



Ms. T. Tsheole

Geneva, Counsellor, Human Rights

Email: tsheolet at dirco.gov.za



Ms. Y. Naidoo,

Geneva, First Secretary Human Rights, DIRCO

Email: naidooy at dirco.gov.za





Dear High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein,



*ACCESS TO MEDICINES IS A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT*



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.



Roche maintains its high prices and unconscionable profits in every way
possible. Roche holds multiple evergreened patents on trastuzumab in many
countries across the world, including South Africa where their patents
could block biosimilars from entering the market until 2033. In countries
where patents have expired or do not exist, Roche is using long,
complicated litigation to block potentially more affordable biosimilar
versions from coming to market. In Brazil and Argentina, Roche is one of
the pharmaceutical companies litigating against those governments for their
attempts to use TRIPS flexibilities i.e. legal international safeguards to
protect public health.



In 2015, Roche made US$ 8.9-billion profit while CEO Severin Schwan earned
US$ 12-million. It is highly plausible that Roche could cut the price of
trastuzumab dramatically and still be very profitable. Instead, Roche
attempts to distract critics with proposals for differential pricing that
still keep the drug unaffordable; pat themselves on the back for patient
assistance programmes that reach a fraction of the women in need; and, most
of all, consistently pass on the blame to governments - whom Roche demands
should spend limited resources to ensure their limitless profits. These
high profits are not benefiting women, rather women are denied treatment
and sent home to die.



Tobeka died in Mdantsane, South Africa, in November 2016 within three years
of her diagnosis. On this day, there are many more women in the developing
world diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer and more women that would never
have access to this lifesaving drug due to greed.



We know that the tragedy faced by Tobeka and her family, and by women
across the world unable to access this medicine because of pricing is just
one example of a gross human rights violation.



We therefore welcome the initiative of the UN Human Rights Council to
convene a panel discussion on the basic human right to access medicines,
and your resolution last year to work on this critical issue. We also
applaud the South African government for co-sponsoring the resolution; we
call on them to immediately fix South Africa's patent laws to include and
use TRIPS flexibilities and to exercise every power they have to bring down
the prices of cancer medicines and provide these to all who need them.



In the words of Nelson Mandela, South African freedom fighter, Nobel Peace
Laureate and human rights activist, "*Where you live should not determine
the outcome of your treatment”.*



We ask you: make this the mission of the Human Rights Council to ensure
that women across the globe can access the medicines and other health
technologies they need and that their right to life and health is not held
to ransom by the greed and monopolies of the pharmaceutical industry.





Yours sincerely



The Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab

*#ForTobeka*



---



*The Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab is lead by the Fix the
Patent Laws Campaign in South Africa. It is a joint coalition of 31
organisations, including: Advocates for Breast Cancer,  AmaBele Belles’
Project Flamingo, Breast Course 4 Nurses, Breast Health Foundation,
Can-Sir,  Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA), Cape Mental Health
(CMH), Childhood Cancer Foundation of South Africa (CHOC), DiabetesSA,
Doctors without Borders (MSF), EpilepsySA, Hospice Palliative Care
Association (HPCA), Igazi Foundation, Look Good Feel Better, Marie Stopes
South Africa, National Council Against Smoking, Oncology Nursing
Association of SA, Pancreatic Cancer Network of SA, People Living With
Cancer (PLWC), Pink Trees, Reach for Recovery, Schizophrenia and Bipolar
Disorders Alliance (SABDA), SECTION27, South African Depression and Anxiety
Group (SADAG), South African Federation of Mental Health (SAFMH), South
African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (SANCD Alliance), Stop Stock
Outs Project (SSP), The Sunflower Fund, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC),
Vrede Foundation, and Wings of Hope.*



*www.fixthepatentlaws.org <http://www.fixthepatentlaws.org> *

--
*Lotti Rutter*
Advocacy & Campaign Manager
Treatment Action Campaign

+27 81 818 8493
lotti.rutter at tac.org.za



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