Tobeka Daki died this week. And she shouldn’t have.
Tobeka lived in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, and was the mother of two sons. Her youngest son, Khanya, is 11 years old. In 2013, she was diagnosed with a strain of breast cancer known as HER2. There is a medicine called Trastuzumab, marketed under the name Herceptin, that is very effective at treating Tobeka’s form of breast cancer. The groundbreaking research that led to the discovery of Herceptin was funded by U.S. taxpayers. A year’s dose can be manufactured for about $176.
But Tobeka was never treated with Herceptin. The corporation that controls the medicine charges about $34,000 in South Africa for a year’s worth of doses.