Health activists gather to discuss excessive price of cancer medicine

From 11 to 13 April 2019, policymakers from across the world will gather at Emperors Palace at a forum hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and South African government that is asking: what is a fair price for a medicine?

Civil Society Organizations and activists, local and international, have organized a side event at the same venue to discuss the emerging issues in medicine pricing as well as strategies to ensure that people are not denied their right to health due to the ever-increasing cost of medicines. One of the focus areas is the excessive price of cancer medicines in South Africa, with a specific focus on lenalidomide, a drug used for the treatment of myeloma.

In South Africa, Celgene holds 32 secondary patents on lenalidomide that may block more affordable generics coming to market until 2028. Currently, it costs around ZAR 828,000 for a year's treatment course in the private sector and is not available in the public sector. It is excluded from prescribed minimum benefits of private medical schemes because of the cost. In India, a year’s course of lenalidomide costs ZAR 28,476.

MSF, Doctors Without Borders, Fair Pricing Forum


The issue of excessive medicine prices is global, inextricably linked to a lack of pro-patient medical innovation and affects all diseases, all technologies, and all countries, especially low and middle-income countries. 100 million people around the world each year are being pushed into poverty because of healthcare expenses. High prices cause avoidable human suffering, inequality, and poverty.

Cancer survivors and activists from South Africa and across the world will join the discussion to demand more affordable generic lenalidomide -- and more affordable medicines more broadly. They will be available for interviews on request.

WHERE: Emperors Palace, 64 Jones Road, Kempton Park, Johannesburg

WHEN: Thursday 11th April, 15h00 17h00

For more information or to arrange interviews contact

Nomatter Ndebele | SECTION27 | +27 72 919 2752 | [email protected] Salome Meyer | Cancer Alliance | +27 79 483 3175 | [email protected]

Find out more about MSF's work in South-Africa