Cost Savings On Cancer Drug Could Enhance Colombian’s Right To Health, Long-Term Economic Development

Huffington Post: Right To Health, Colombia And U.S. Congress
Todd Howland, representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia

“Recent memos allegedly leaked from the Colombian Embassy in Washington describe intense pressure by the pharmaceutical industry and its congressional allies to discourage Colombia’s efforts to half the local price of Novartis’ Gleevec, one of the leading medications used to treat Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML). … Without medication, CML … kills almost everyone who has the disease. Gleevec, approved in 2001, and its successors, radically changed the outlook for CML patients … Cost savings on Gleevec would allow Colombia to divert hundreds of millions of dollars to projects that ensure Colombians’ basic human rights and promote the long-term economic development and stability essential for peace. … The United States has a historical commitment to peace and human rights, and Colombia has a moral, and legal, obligation to do its utmost to protect the lives of its people. We have a choice: we can punish Colombia — and the individuals who suffer from CML — for striving to respect the fundamental human right to health, and in doing so, undermine Colombia’s progress toward peace and stability; or we can build on our investment and promote an ethical and humane foreign policy, facilitating a human rights success story” (7/22).