100 signatures reached
To: Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche
Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumb
- Drop the price of trastuzumab so that all women living with HER2+ breast cancer who need these medicines can access them;
- Immediately cease all litigation against biosimilar versions of trastuzumab;
- Stop abusive patenting practices that needlessly extend patent monopoly on trastuzumab and other medicines; and
- Immediately cease litigation against the Brazilian and Argentinian governments for their use of TRIPS flexibilities.
Why is this important?
Swiss multinational company Roche is facing global condemnation from women living with cancer, families of people with cancer, activists, scientists, researchers and health professionals from across the world who demand that no woman go without it lifesaving breast cancer treatment because it is too expensive.
On 7th February, the Fix the Patents Laws Campaign launched the Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab 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 in the private sector is around ZAR 516,700. The few public facilities which can access trastuzumab do so at a lower price of around ZAR 211,920 per year. Both out of reach of most.
But, health economists have shown that a year’s worth of trastuzumab can be produced and sold for around ZAR 3 400. Drastically less. This estimated price even includes a 50% increase above the cost of production for profit.
Meanwhile Roche are posting fat profits. In 2015 Roche made US$ 8.9-billion profit (around 119 billion Rand). In the same year CEO Severin Schwan earned US$ 12-million (around 160 million Rand). 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 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.
Shame on Severin Schwan (Roche CEO) for insisting on fat profits while you could save lives by trimming your profits.
Roche could have given Tobeka a chance, but instead they turned their back on her.
Demand that Roche do not turn their back on all the other women across the world.