Abolitionist Law Center
MEDIA RELEASE: Mumia Abu-Jamal files suit over prison’s refusal to provide necessary medical care
Untreated Diabetes nearly killed Abu-Jamal in March, and the DOC is refusing to treat his active Hepatitis C
August 3, 2015: Attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed an amended lawsuit today in the Middle District of Pennsylvania federal court to challenge prison medical staff’s denial of necessary medical treatment – denial that nearly killed Abu-Jamal earlier this year.
On March 30, 2015, Abu-Jamal was rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness and going into diabetic shock. Although prison medical staff were aware that Abu-Jamal had a dangerously high blood glucose level of 419 on March 6, they failed to treat, monitor, or even inform Abu-Jamal of his condition. Glucose levels like those that Abu-Jamal had can result in diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and death.
Abu-Jamal’s diabetic shock came in the midst of an escalating year-long health crisis that began with a rash in August 2014. The skin condition grew in intensity over the course of the next several months, eventually covering most of his body with a painful, severe rash that is resistant to conventional treatments. The skin condition is abnormal in its duration and intensity, and has led to lesions, open wounds, and swelling.
The lawsuit filed today seeks injunctive relief for prison medical staff’s failure to treat Abu-Jamal’s active Hepatitis C. Recent blood tests provided at the insistence of Abu-Jamal, his lawyers, and consulting doctors have confirmed that Abu-Jamal has active Hepatitis C, which is likely the underlying cause of his health crisis. Despite the undeniable medical evidence that he is in need of treatment for his Hepatitis C, prison medical staff are refusing to provide any.
Advances in Hepatitis C treatment in recent years have revolutionized the way the disease is treated, with new direct-acting anti-viral medications that have had over 95% success rates in curing the illness in clinical trials. The medications, however, are extraordinarily expensive in the United States due to monopoly pricing practices by the pharmaceutical companies that have patented them.
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections has yet to promulgate a new protocol for treating Hepatitis C with the new medications, meaning that the estimated 10,000-plus people in DOC custody who have Hepatitis C are not receiving any treatment.
This issue is the subject of a class action lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal court in June 2015.
Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and Robert J. Boyle of New York City.
Had Jonas Salk unjustly enrich himself with his polio vaccine, this would be a far different world; society would be mourning millions of lost family members, while paying for the medical care of millions of others crippled by the disease.
The maker of Harvoni – Gilead – perceives some right to keep its 95%+ cure rate for HepC unaffordable for almost everyone … it charges $94K per pill, not $94K per cure regimen.
This isn’t an “there oughta be a law” situation: this is a “must be a law” situation. Pricing a drug so as to ensure that millions more people will catch a deadly disease isn’t capitalism; it’s murder. Mass murder.
The FDA has been sued over the high cost of Harvoni, but feds move ever-so-slowly when no pressure is applied (if they move at all). Please help this little petition go viral. Thank you.
Update: There is an additional way to help that I just learned of … if you are able to make a donation to help secure medical treatment for Mumia, please do so here. Thank you.