If things go as planned by the Minister of Health, pharmaceutical companies will have no choice but to succumb to pressure to reduce the cost of cancer treatment medications.
This will be beneficial to the country the same way the reduced cost of ARVs affected the country.
As part of the introduction to his department’s budget vote in Parliament yesterday, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi urged everyone to join in the bid to reduce the cost of cancer treatment and and the medicine used in treating cancer patients.
In the past, South African government struck a deal with drug producers which led to the launch of its HPV campaign that was geared towards protecting girls from cervical cancer.
Minister Motsoaledi emphasized that the campaign was a success because the department approached the industry with an offer they couldn’t resist.
“So what we did, we went to the company and said the medicines will just stay here on the shelf so let’s negotiate. We are guaranteeing you half a million school kids per annum forever.”
The minister has now turned his attention to the treatment of breast cancer patients commonly known as Herceptin, which costs R500,000 for a year’s treatment. He spoke sympathetically on the pains cancer patients pass through on a daily basis.
“Do you imagine how painful is it to look at a woman suffering from breast cancer and she can be helped by Herceptin, but she needs half a million rand? So we are going to do the same thing we did with HPV and I’ve already started.”
Motsoaledi is already in a negotiation process to reduce the cost of this cancer treatment with a major pharmaceutical company.
He added that to tackle this problem globally, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has established a high level panel on access to medicines and South Africa is well represented on the structure.