Protesting Big Pharma 'Death Sentence,' Cancer Patient Arrested Outside TPP Talks

October 7, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

A cancer patient was arrested in Atlanta, Georgia on Wednesday after allegedly “disrupting” the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in a protest aimed at maintaining access to affordable cancer medicines in the dozen countries, including the U.S. and Canada, that would be impacted by the colossal trade deal.

Video footage showed Zahara Heckscher—who was wearing a t-shirt that read “I Have Cancer. I Can’t Wait Years” and holding a hospital drip pole that read “TPP: Don’t Cut My IV”—being handcuffed and led away by police after she refused to leave an area within the Westin Hotel where trade ministers were holding the high-level and secretive talks.

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Heckscher is part of a group of cancer patients and survivors who, alongside other healthcare advocates, have demanded the secret text of the TPP be released so they can verify that a final agreement would not include a “death sentence clause”—a proposal submitted by the U.S. delegation and included in earlier drafts that would see de facto monopolies on biological medicines extended for up to 8 years.

As she attempted to read a statement to gathered press in the hotel lobby, Heckscher refused to stop talking or leave the area:

According to Public Citizen, the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that has raised rounded objections to the TPP and similar deal, Heckscher has been treated by biologicals including trastuzumab (Hercepin) and pertuzumab (Perjeta). She is currently undergoing chemotherapy as part of a clinical trial, the group explained, and continues on denosumab (Xgeva) treatment as well. 

“[This rule] represents the worst of secretive trade deals – a rule that has nothing to do with trade, but will lead to preventable suffering. You can put a suit and tie on this, but it still stinks.” —Peter Maybarduk, Public Citizen