#RocheGreedKills

7th February 2017

Today we stand together as women living with cancer, families of people with cancer, activists, scientists, researchers and health professionals from across the world. Together we demand that no woman go without it lifesaving breast cancer treatment because it is too expensive.

 (Click photo for hi-res image)

We demand justice for Tobeka Daki.

A fearless activist from South Africa who was living with HER2+ breast cancer since 2013. Despite being a good candidate for trastuzumab, Tobeka was never able to access the treatment due to its high cost.

 On 14 November 2016 she died in her home.

 We do not know whether trastuzumab would have saved Tobeka’s life – trastuzumab doesn’t always work. We do know, however, that Tobeka was never given a chance. Even though she was dying and the medicine existed, she was never given an opportunity to try it.

The price of trastuzumab varies in countries across the world. These prices aren’t always public. They are agreed behind closed doors.

 In South Africa the annual price 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. Both out of reach of most.

  • In Brazil it costs US$ 17,562.
  • In Malaysia it costs US$ 17,929.
  • In France it costs US$ 30,595.
  • In India it costs US$ 10,938*.

 But, health economists have shown that a year’s worth of trastuzumab can be produced and sold for only US$ 240. Drastically less. This estimated price even includes a 50% increase above the cost of production for profit.

Meanwhile Roche are posting fat profits.

Roche CEO Severin Schwan
Roche CEO Severin Schwan

In 2015 Roche made US$ 8.9-billion profit. In the same year CEO Severin Schwan earned US$ 12-million. It seems highly plausible that Roche could cut the price of trastuzumab dramatically and still be very profitable.

 Instead Roche maintains it’s high prices in any way possible. Roche holds multiple evergreened patents on trastuzumab in certain countries across the world. In South Africa, for example, multiple patents extend their monopoly until 2033.

 In countries where the patents have ended or do not exist, Roche is using other means to block potentially more affordable biosimilar versions coming to market. In India Roche have initiated a court challenge against the Indian regulatory body for its decision to approve Mylan’s version as a biosimilar product.

 In Brazil and Argentina, Roche is one of the pharmaceutical companies litigating against those governments for their attempts to use legal international safeguards to protect public health.

 For countries like the UK and the US, Roche are trying to charge a price for T-DM1, the drug breast cancer patients need once trastuzumab fails, that is so high even they cannot afford it.

 For too long Roche has been allowed to charge exorbitant prices for these lifesaving treatments.

Tobeka had one life. Her two children had one mother. We had the means to give her a chance at survival and we failed her – as we will continue to fail other women.

 What is most disturbing is the unconcerned attitude and the lack of basic humanity shown by people at Roche. It is not as if they are unaware that many people can’t access trastuzumab because of its high price.

Manfred Heinzer (Roche South Africa General Manager)
Manfred Heinzer (Roche South Africa General Manager)

Shame on you Manfred Heinzer (Roche South Africa General Manager) for not having done more since hearing about Tobeka’s plight six months before her death.

 Shame on you Severin Schwan (Roche CEO) for insisting on fat profits while you could save lives by trimming your profits.

 You could have given Tobeka a chance, but instead you turned your back on her.

Don’t turn your back on all the other women across the world.

WE DEMAND THAT ROCHE:

 - Drop the price of trastuzumab and T-DM1 so that all women living with HER2+ breast cancer who need

#RocheGreedKills

ACTIVISTS AROUND THE WORLD MARCH #ForTobeka

- Demonstrations held at Roche & pharma associations in South Africa, Malaysia, UK, France, Zambia, Brazil, US
- 108 organisations endorse a letter to Roche

 

Downloadable video for broadcast

Tuesday, 7th February 2017 – Swiss multinational company Roche faced global condemnation today from women living with cancer, families of people with cancer, activists, scientists, researchers and health professionals from across the world. They highlighted the immoral and unconscionable tactics employed by Roche across the developed and developing world. Roche’s greed is preventing women from accessing affordable versions of trastuzumab, an essential medicine used in the treatment of breast cancer.

The global day of action was led by women living with cancer in South Africa who gathered outside Roche’s office in Johannesburg demanding justice for Tobeka Daki – a leading cancer activist from South Africa whose own struggle against cancer ended last year.

“In South Africa today, we launched the Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab

in loving memory of a fearless activist who lead our struggle to ensure women could get this medicine,” said Salomé Meyer of the Cancer Alliance in South Africa. “Even as the likelihood of her being able to get trastuzumab diminished, Tobeka’s determination to ensure other women could access the medicine only grew stronger.”

Despite being a good candidate for trastuzumab, Tobeka was never able to access the treatment due to its high cost. In South Africa the annual price charged by Roche in the private sector is around US$ 38,365 (ZAR 516,700). The few public facilities which can access trastuzumab do so at a lower price of around US$ 15,735 (ZAR 211,920) 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 in every way possible. Roche holds multiple evergreened patents on trastuzumab in certain countries across the world. In South Africa, for example, multiple patents extend Roche’s monopoly until 2033. In countries where the patents expired or do not exist, Roche is using other means to block potentially more affordable biosimilar versions coming to market.

“In India Roche have embroiled India’s drug regulatory body and biosimilar producers in long-running and increasingly complex litigation to prevent the widespread availability of potentially affordable versions of trastuzumab,” said Kalyani Menon Sen, a women’s rights activist from India. “Even as Roche withdrew its patent applications on trastuzumab in India in the face of patent oppositions that were likely to succeed, it applied new ways to continue to be the sole supplier. We are demanding that they immediately cease all litigation against biosimilar products.”
    
In Brazil and Argentina, Roche is one of the pharmaceutical companies litigating against those governments for their attempts to use legal international safeguards to protect public health.

"The Brazilian government pays 73 times more than what health economists estimate trastuzumab could be sold for. It’s just too expensive,” said Graciela Rodriguez, a women’s rights activist from Brazil. “Worse now, Roche are also suing our government – through a case filed by Interfarma – for attempting to stop abusive patenting practices more broadly. Roche doesn’t like the fact that the Brazilian government have a system of examining patent applications and rejecting those that don’t meet our standards.”

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Media:   Brandon Cuicchi  646.284.2948

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

AIDS ACTIVISTS TUG-OF-WAR WITH PHARMABRO’S OUTSIDE CLINTON CAMPAIGN HEADQUARTERS

 

July 25, 2016 – Philadelphia, PA – Over the weekend, the New York and Philadelphia chapters of ACT UP,

the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power,
teamed up with allies UAEM (Universities Allied for Essential Medicines)
and The Other 98% to stage a tug-of-war with pharma bro’s outside Hillary
Clinton’s Philadelphia campaign headquarters ahead of the Democratic
National Convention.

Activists targeted candidate Clinton for her refusal to renew her 2008
campaign pledges to regulate the price-gouging of medicines made by major
pharmaceutical companies like Gilead and Pfizer.  The high prices make it
hard for people with HIV as well as other people to access the lifesaving
treatment they need.

“Hillary Clinton made pledges to have 30 million on treatment by 2020. 
Many are sick, and some have died waiting for the treatment,” said ACT UP
Philadelphia member Jose De Marco.  “This is not the way to the AIDS Free
Generation she talked about.”

Currently, taxpayers help fund the development of new medicines through
grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to universities.  The
drugs are then licensed to companies to sell back to consumers at high
prices.  “Hillary Clinton must provide concrete solutions for
pharmaceutical price-gouging and challenge the current patent system for
drugs that Americans pay for with their taxes,” said Brandon Cuicchi of
ACT UP NY.

Around thirty people met at the Love Statue in Philadelphia’s City Hall
Park and marched, carrying signs and chanting, to Clinton’s campaign
headquarters a few blocks away.  When they arrived, they were met by a
pharma bro played by comedian John F. O’Donnell from RT’s Redacted Tonight
along with the bigheaded likenesses of other notable pharma bros like
Martin Shkreli.

The pharma bros waved giant moneybags and challenged activists to a
tug-of-war to win influence over Hillary Clinton.

“WAKE UP, YOUR BUDGET DREAMS ARE OUR NIGHTMARE!”

Ryan’s Budget Plans Are Deadly for People with HIV in the U.S. and Around the World

(December 1, 2016) Washington, D.C. – Eleven AIDS activists were arrested this afternoon while staging a sit-in at the office of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in protest of his and Congressman Tom Price’s plans to dismantle the U.S. healthcare system that the global HIV response depends on. People living with HIV, students, nurses, and others took over the hallway outside Ryan’s office, holding signs and banners reading “Ryan & Price’s Healthcare Dream is a Nightmare for People with HIV.”

 

 

AIDS activists delivered a letter to Ryan’s office and to the office of Congressman Price, who is the incoming Trump administration’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). They were arrested and taken to Capitol Police headquarters at 119 D St. NE after sitting down and refusing to leave Ryan’s office until the Speaker committed to reverse course on budget plans that would be deadly for people living with HIV.

In addition to the civil disobedience action, AIDS activists from Washington D.C., New York and Philadelphia, representing a dozen organizations, marked World AIDS Day at the United States Capitol with a demonstration protesting Speaker Ryan’s and Congressman Tom Price’s deadly healthcare plans.

Speaker Ryan, the most powerful person in Congress, has for years pushed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), privatize Medicare, end Medicaid as we know it and slash billions from “discretionary” programs, putting funding for global AIDS programs at risk. Georgia Congressman Tom Price, the House Budget Committee Chair, has been Ryan’s close ally in that work -- literally authoring the legislation that would unravel the healthcare safety net as we know it. Given the results of November’s elections and President-elect Trump’s selection of Congressman Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Ryan will have the power to make much of his agenda a reality – with devastating consequences for people with HIV.

To come from NYC with ACT UP to Philly for the Saturday protest email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 917-653-7267