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Sen. Sanders, you have spoken out against the depredations of Big Pharma, refused to take donations from any of them, and call for “Medicare for all.” You’ve also spoken to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Currently in Pennsylvania there is a case before a federal court which embodies both of these battles, Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes. Mumia Abu-Jamal is suing to force the Department of Corrections to immediately provide him treatment with the Hep C drug.
“This conference that we are picketing ... is an obscene reflection of the reality of this country today, that the most important thing is money and profit and not human needs!” – Carole Seligman, speaking at the demonstration - It was in their fancy tailored suits and with suspicious eyes that big pharma CEOs and investors got interrupted by protestors and speeches such as the above as they came and went from the too-big-to-fail JP Morgan-sponsored conference on “health care” (read: profit care) at the elite Westin St. Francis hotel on Union Square in San Francisco on Monday, the 11th of January, 2016.
“Who gets treated for hepatitis C?” is a medical decision for infectious disease specialists, not a question of “ethics, costs or access” for well-meaning executives. “Who pays?” depends on measuring the real social costs of failing to treat a national epidemic and cannot be measured by the limited considerations of private entities and public agencies in a single state, or even several states.
Attorneys filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts this week on behalf of prisoners who say they’re being denied new lifesaving treatment for Hepatitis C because of the cost of the drugs. Gilead Sciences manufactures two versions of the cure, Harvoni and Sovaldi. Abbvie Pharmaceutical Limited, formerly Abbot Labs, manufactures another, Viekira Pak. The cost of any one of the three is roughly $90,000.