As reported on My Society Source in the spring, our innovative partnerships with IBM and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) will make discounted chemotherapy drugs available in six poor countries in Africa, where cancer death rates are rising.
This breakthrough initiative caught the attention of The New York Times, which on Oct. 7 ran a lengthy story about it in its Health section.
Titled "As Cancer Tears Through Africa, Drug Makers Draw Up a Battle Plan," the story quotes Megan O'Brien, our director of global cancer treatment and the architect of the deal. She notes that Africans are dying of treatable cancers, mainly because of a lack of drugs, and affordable drugs. We are trying to change that.
“I can save a child with leukemia for $300. That’s a disease that has a 90 percent cure rate in America, and a 90 percent death rate in Africa,” Megan told the Times.
The story begins with this:
"NAIROBI, Kenya — In a remarkable initiative modeled on the campaign against AIDS in Africa, two major pharmaceutical companies, working with the American Cancer Society, will steeply discount the prices of cancer medicines in Africa.
Under the new agreement, the companies — Pfizer, based in New York, and Cipla, based in Mumbai — have promised to charge rock-bottom prices for 16 common chemotherapy drugs. The deal, initially offered to a half-dozen countries, is expected to bring lifesaving treatment to tens of thousands who would otherwise die.
"Reading this gave me goose bumps," Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said after seeing an outline of the deal. "I think this is a phenomenal idea, and I think it has a good chance of working.""
The article notes that cancer now kills about 450,000 Africans a year. By 2030, it will kill almost 1 million annually, according to the World Health Organization. And, the most common African cancers are the most treatable, including breast, cervical and prostate tumors.
The full article is worth a read - and definitely worth sharing with volunteers.