South Africa’s Competition Commission has launched an investigation into excessive pricing by three major pharmaceutical companies that have the sole rights to distribute cancer drugs in the country.
The commission’s job is to protect ordinary South Africans from abuse by dominant players. It has powers to investigate and evaluate restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant positions and mergers.
Its investigation into the drug companies is vital as cancer treatment is unaffordable for most South Africans. Many medical schemes – which offer medical cover to 16% of the population or 7 million people – refuse to pay for the medication because of the cost.
In South Africa all drug prices are approved and signed off by the medicines pricing committee in the National Department of Health. But our hope is that the commission’s investigation could still drive competition among suppliers, and in turn more affordable prices for cancer treatment. This should result in better access to affordable drugs, particularly for poor people.
Yesterday we gave you some important information about e’Pap, a revolutionary nutrient-loaded porridge that was created to cater to the feeding needs of HIV patients and babies.
Nutrient content in fruit and vegetables has dropped up to 76% over the past 50 years in the USA and Europe. Proof that modern intensive agriculture practices create the problem. The result is a global crisis of mass starvation of micro-nutrients in communities both rich and poor.
Such is the success of e’Pap in improving nutrition, energy and productivity for those who consume it, that up to two million servings a month of e’Pap are distributed in Africa.
e’Pap could be the answer for Children with Cancer – it is full of vitamins, cheap, and easy-to-make; it does not even require cooking so is suitable for use in even the remotest rural areas.
Children with Cancer generally have many problems caused by their cancer and by the cancer treatments they are undergoing, such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy, including losing weight, inability to eat or swallow, and an impaired immune system exactly at the time that they need everything they can get to fight this devastating disease.
Part of the answer to these problems may lay in a nutrient-loaded porridge that was developed by the late Dr Basil Kransdorff, a South African doctor, specifically to cater to feeding HIV patients and babies.
The late Dr Basil Kransdorff and wife Rose’s work helping an NGO called CARE (Community AIDS Response) at the Joburg General Hospital, led to a worldwide debate on Food Security vs Nutrition Security.
Back in 2000 there was no medication and Doctors were telling patients diagnosed with HIV to go home, eat a healthy well-balanced diet and prepare to die. It was a difficult time when little was known about treating those living with HIV.
As if Cancer patients do not have a difficult enough time fighting this destructive disease, Pharmaceutical Companies in South Africa are now being investigated for excessive pricing of cancer medication.
Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele from the Competition Commission announced last week at a briefing at the Department of Trade and Industry headquarters in Pretoria on Tuesday, that an investigation is to be initiated against oncology medicine provider Roche Holding AG, which includes its US-based biotechnology company Genentech Incorporated.
“The matter is of grave national importance,” said Bonakele.
He explained that anti-competitive behaviour the healthcare sector, particularly pharmaceuticals could have a negative impact on consumers, specifically the poor and vulnerable.
The commission believes the company has engaged in excessive pricing, price discrimination and exclusionary conduct in the provision of breast cancer medicine in South Africa.
The commission says it has reason to believe that pharmaceutical companies Aspen, Roche and Pfizer are involved in alleged excessive pricing of these lifesaving drugs.
In a Facebook Post last week, we shared with you the frightening news that Cancer Patients in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa would henceforth have to relocate to another province or die as the last cancer specialist in Durban has resigned.
As of the close of business on Friday‚ there will not be a single cancer specialist doctor employed at any state hospital in Durban – and only two will be left in KwaZulu-Natal.
This shocking development leaves hundreds – if not thousands – of cancer patients in KwaZulu-Natal’s biggest city facing clinical uncertainty and staring the possibility of death squarely in the face. It follows the resignation of the city’s last state oncologist‚ whose last day is Friday.
At least two cancer patients’ families have attributed their untimely deaths to the non-functional cancer treatment equipment at Addington‚ according to a statement released ahead of a march by doctors in Durban. Both patients were reportedly referred to Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital as oncology machines at Addington were allegedly broken. But because of excessively long waiting lists‚ they died before they could be treated.
Democratic Alliance MPL Dr Imran Keeka said the party had submitted a complaint to the SA Human Rights Commission in February last year about the collapse of the oncology service.
He said a report‚ which has not been made public yet‚ was forwarded to him and the respondents‚ KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo‚ the KZN Department of Health‚ and officials at Addington and Inkosi Albert Luthuli.
“Because the report cannot be made public as yet‚ the contents cannot be divulged. The DA is hopeful that the unchanged report is made public very soon‚” he said.
Fortunately this week we can bring you some slightly better news…
A good father makes all the difference in a child’s life. He’s a pillar of strength, support and discipline. His work is endless and, oftentimes, thankless.
The father of a Child with Cancer has an even harder job because he must continually stay strong for his child, even when they are in so much pain that it makes him want to cry.
The vulnerability they experience is stupefying and causes self-doubt, general worry, and frustration with the medical care they receive.
The father of a Child with Cancer rises to the challenge, whether holding a vomit bucket while their child empties their insides, squeezing into a tiny bed with their child overnight in the hospital, or delivering countless meds through syringes.
Even when at work, there is no magical “off switch” to shut off the immense stress and worry that onco-dads feel about their family. “It’s hard to focus, especially after a night where you rushed your child to the hospital with a seizure.”
It is crying shame to see what has happened to the once proud, functional and world-renowned South African Health Department.
South Africa used to have some of the best hospitals, doctors and nurses in the world and they were sought after by many overseas countries, but alas that is no more…
Twenty years ago on the 24th of this month a wonderful medical team at Groote Schuur Hospital saved my life (Stage IV Urethral Carcinoma) – virtually all of them are now either retired or practicing overseas due to the sad condition of and lack of support from the South African Department of Health 😦
It has become the norm to see articles about bad medical practices, hospitals and clinics running out of chronic medication, broken equipment, patients being left to lie in their own excrement, patients not being attended to and patients dying needlessly, etc. etc. and it makes me wanna bawl my eyes out…
While the following article is essentially about the state of the Ailing Kwazulu-Natal Health System, one has only to watch the news or read a newspaper to know that things are not much better at other State Hospitals around the country 😦
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has a lot of explaining to do…
Conventional Cancer Treatments such as Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy unfortunately generally come with a variety of not-so-nice side effects, such as diarrhoea, one of the more dangerous side effects.
Diarrhoea can not only be painful, but it also removes important nutrients, probiotics, and water from the body. As a result, diarrhoea puts one at a higher risk for more trauma from infection and dehydration.
It is important to manage these side effects immediately to prevent further complications that will weaken your body. The best way to heal is to ensure that you eat only healthy foods and avoid problematic foods that are going to worsen your diarrhoea.
A university degree is linked to a heightened risk of developing a brain tumor, suggests a large observational study, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
Gliomas, in particular, were more common among people who had studied at university for at least three years than they were among those who didn’t go on to higher education, the data show.
The researchers base their findings on more than 4.3 million Swedes, all of whom were born between 1911 and 1961 and living in Sweden in 1991.
They were monitored between 1993 and 2010 to see if they developed a primary brain tumor, and information on educational attainment, disposable income, marital status, and occupation was obtained from national insurance, labour market,and national census data.
During the monitoring period, 1.1 million people died and more than 48,000 emigrated, but 5735 of the men and 7101 of the women developed a brain tumour. Read the rest of this entry
Finding out that your child has cancer is devastating enough in itself, but what is even worse are the months and years that follow… the fight against this monstrous disease, the toll it takes on your child with cancer, your other children, your spouse, your marriage/relationship, your familial relationships, your friendships, your work, your own health, and your finances.
When we talk about The Business of Cancer, we are not only talking about the financial costs of Childhood Cancer Treatment, although they are high, but everything that it takes to deal with a diagnosis of Childhood Cancer…
A typical cancer patient’s treatment can easily cost hundreds of thousands of rands per year:
“Depending on the kind of cancer and the complexity of a case, treatment per year can cost less than R10 000, or way over R1 million,” according to Dr Ernst Marais, Operations Executive at the Independent Clinical Oncology Network (ICON). Read the rest of this entry
Upright Citizen is the début musical album released by singing-doctor Marc Hendricks, and he is set to dazzle Cape Town audiences at the Artscape Theatre on 22 April, for a one-night only performance.
Dr. Marc is well-known to the Little Fighters Cancer Trust, as he is the much-loved and well-respected treating oncologist for many of our Little Fighters, who spend a lot of time at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Proceeds of the show will be donated to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital for transformation initiatives.
Dr. Marc, as he is fondly referred to by our Little Fighters and their Families, is a wonderful, caring, compassionate Paediatric Oncologist who also has the voice of an angel (listen to him performing his composition BIRD SONG on the video below).
Every day the Little Fighters Cancer Trust gets loads of phone calls, e-mails and enquiries on our Facebook Page from individuals who want to know how they can help us to help our Little Fighters and their families.
We really appreciate all the offers and enquiries, but we cannot always get to them as we are only 3 full-time staff who have a mountain of things to do, so we have made it very easy for you to offer help…
Like any NGO, we survive on donations, all of which (and more) are desperately needed to do whatever we can for our Little Fighters and their Families, so we definitely do need as many volunteers as possible.
Unfortunately most people want to work directly with the children, but this is not possible most of the time as the hospitals have major red-tape about visitors to the paediatric oncology wards – and for good reason – primarily that these Little Fighters all have impaired immune systems and the slightest infection could mean disaster for them.
We do, however have many other forms of volunteerism, and if you would like to help please look through the descriptions of the volunteers that we do need and see which would suit you.
This is 10-year-old Little Fighter Brendon, and last week he made a short video for all his supporters to tell them how he was doing and thank them for the support; he first did this in Afrikaans (his home language) but when asked by Mandie if next time he could do one in English for those Little Fighter Supporters who do not understand Afrikaans, he immediately made a second one in English – what a CHAMP!!!
What is more important though, is that he made these videos a short few days after massive surgery to place a Broviac Line as well as open chest surgery to do a biopsy on his thymus.
This is what inspires us about our Little Fighters and keeps us doing what we do – all of these children who are fighting cancer are SO strong and somehow, through it all they all smile most of the time…
Brendon suffered from severe abdominal pain and cramping and was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2016, but his suffering continued as did the doctors visits, various medications, various medical tests, and loads of financial and psychological stress for the whole family.
Helen and mommy Siobahn here again – today we are going to continue with “Helen’s Story” because we want everyone out there to know about Childhood Cancer and about my cancer, Retinoblastoma.
Now that the problem had been diagnosed as Retinoblastoma, things moved along very quickly. The diagnosis was made on the Thursday and the operation to remove the eye was scheduled for the next Monday.
Helen underwent an MRI Scan as well as a Lumbar Puncture in order to determine whether cancer was present anywhere else in Helen’s body. Fortunately all tests came back negative and it was determined that the cancer was confined to Helen’s left eye.
Helen underwent surgery to remove the eye and she and mommy stayed overnight in ICU and in the normal Paediatric ward the next night, during which time Helen she had a plaster over her eye. The plaster was removed before she went home the next day and replaced by a transparent shield to prevent infection and was removed two weeks later.
A ball implant was inserted into the empty eye socket and Helen currently wears nothing over the eye – she will get a prosthesis when she is a little bit older and able to handle the hygiene it requires (toddlers tend to play in the sand or touch unhygienic toys etc. and then rub their eyes).