MUMIA'S LAWYERS ASK COURT TO ORDER LIFESAVING HEP C CURE

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Mumia Abu-Jamal, before and after he fell gravely ill in March, 2015 

Mumia Abu-Jamal has active Hepatitis C, which which is quite likely the cause of the medical conditions he has been suffering from, including eczema and diabetes. In March he was hospitalized after passing out in diabetic shock in a Pennsylvania State prison. Pennsylvania prison authorities have thus far refused to approve the new miracle cure for Hepatitis C for Abu-Jamal, most likely because the two U.S. manufacturers, Gilead Sciences and Abbvie, charge $90,000 for it.

The cure is a pill, taken once a day for twelve weeks, which completely eradicates the Hepatitis C virus from the body, whether it is dormant or active. It can be obtained in Egypt or India for roughly $900.  
 
After learning this news, I spoke to Bret Grote, a member of Mumia’s legal team, which has filed a coimplaint accusing the Pennsylvania prison system of medical neglect and demanded he receive the new Hep C cure.   
 
Ann Garrison: Have Mumia, you the lawyers, and/or other advocates requested the treatment with the Hep C miracle cure?  
 
Bret Grote: Yeah, we have repeatedly been saying that he needs a work-up and he needs treatment. Right? Now the [Pennsylvania] Department of Corrections is not treating anybody with Hepatitis C right now, whether they're active or not. They're not providing the older treatment, it is our understanding and they're certainly not providing the cure. And this was the subject of a class action lawsuit filed in June 2015, just a couple months ago,  So that's why I was saying earlier it makes sense in retrospect that they weren't giving him the blood test, because that would be the first step in determining his Hepatitis C was active and once they take the first step, then the next step should follow. But they are not providing any treatment with these direct acting anti-virals as they're called.
 
AG: Well, they're legally responsible for his life, aren't they? 
 
BG: Yes, failure to treat a serious medical need constitutes what the courts call deliberate indifference. It is cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the 8th Amendment and that was what legal papers we filed earlier this week alleged, and we're going to be moving for a court order. In Pennsylvania, the lawsuit that was filed in June estimate that 20 percent of the incarcerated population has Hepatitis C. That's more than 10,000 people, it's certainly a conservative estimate, so if they were to provide everybody with the cure, that would be - doing some crude math - a billion dollars. And this is a Department of Corrections with a budget that is $1 or $2 billion, but anyways, it's either 50 or 100 percent of their budget.  
 
It's a scandal that really presents opportunities for organizing across certain individual issues or concerns. I mean those who are fighting for health care justice, those who are fighting against the way capitalism just exploits people and their illness. It's really quite scandalous that these companies are permitted to get away with this monopoly pricing and they're essentially holding hostage the lives and health of primarily poor people and people of color. 
 
AG: If you have to go to court to fight for Mumia's right to this lifesaving treatment, isn't there a danger that he's not going to survive until it's won?l 
 
BG: Well, while Mumia is not well right now, he is stable, and there is no indication that he is in immediate danger of something fatal happening. Of course his condition has been quite fragile over the last several months and I don't mean to imply in any way that he is out of danger or that he's not at risk for complications from not just his Hepatitis C, but the other health issues that he has. We are going to be moving swiftly for a preliminary injunction because litigation can take years, and even a fast case on a straightforward issue can take quite some time. So we're going to be moving for a preliminary injunction and saying that the court needs to force this issue and order the defendants to treat his Hepatitis C now.  
 

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