Daki (48) asked the UN high-level panel on access to medicines, at a Johannesburg meeting, to help her to get access
drug trastuzumab. Marketed under the name Herceptin,
the drug is produced by
the pharmaceutical company Roche.
December my doctor told me the cancer in my breasts had spread to my spine. I
know there is a drug that can save me but there is no way to get it,” Daki
said. The mother of two receives treatment for her cancer from the Eastern
Cape's public sector.
stage four breast cancer, Daki's chances of survival are fading.
to South Africa's Fix the Patent Laws campaign, Herceptin is unavailable to her in the public sector and costs almost R500 000 for a year's treatment in the
comparison, a generic version of the drug produced in India costs a fraction of
this at about R 150 000, but is blocked by Roche’s patent which expires in 2023.
shows that Herceptin improves the survival rates of breast cancer patients by
up to 37%. Without this hope, Daki told the Mail & Guardian: “I
think I’m going to die”.
The UN panel was convened last November by
UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon to “address the policy incoherence between intellectual
property laws and access to health”. It is comprised of 16 international experts,
including the former presidents of Botswana and Switzerland.
Thursday the panel hosted its second “global dialogue” in Johannesburg, and
heard arguments from civil society, industry and policy makers about solutions
and barriers to accessing health technologies and promoting innovation. The
first such panel was held in London on March 10.
Africa’s biggest HIV lobby group, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC),
delivered a declaration to the UN panel appealing for “ambitious”
recommendations when the panel presents its report to the secretary general in
June. The declaration was supported by 25 other civil society groups from
around the world.
this declaration the TAC said the world is “poised on the threshold of a
historic opportunity to redress the policy incoherence and imbalance that
exists” between rights of companies, backed by trade laws, and basic human
rights in respect to public health.
“Whether it is women in
Wales who cannot get the breast cancer medicine they need, or people in
South Africa not being able to access hepatitis B or tuberculosis medicines,
we refuse to accept that any person on the planet has to go without the
medicines they need,” said the TAC-led group.
one such person in need, is desperate. She pleaded: “It’s not only me. There are thousands
of women in South Africa who also need this drug. I am really begging the government to give us
Cancer's politics and paradoxes
Experimental cancer drugs effective - but with drawbacks
You can make a difference
The loss of their penises has ruined the lives of victims of traditional initiation schools in rural South Africa.
Former detainees tell of being denied chronic medication and contracting diseases like TB while incarcerated in the overcrowded Cape Town facility.
Rape and physical abuse rates more than double those reported in national studies have been recorded in Diepsloot in northern Johannesburg
Bhekisisa means "to scrutinise" in Zulu
In South Africa, Zulu patients who would like to be thoroughly assessed by a doctor, would ask the physician to "bhekisisa" them.