The Legal Battle & Developments

Trifekta’s Hefty Price Tag

Living with Cystic Fibrosis

cheri’s story

cheri’s story

Cheri Nel, a 39-year-old chartered account and corporate investment banker, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis (CF) – a rare, life-shortening genetic disease – at the age of 6. She’s married to Rob and, together with their three Belgian Malinois, live in the bustling city of Johannesburg, South Africa.

Cheri is eligible for Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ triple therapy, Trikafta. Vertex registered patents over Trikafta in most countries around the world, including South Africa, but Vertex has not brought this medicine to South Africa. And in countries where it sells Trikafta it demands an impossible price – USD 326 767 per year per patient for life.

For this reason, Cheri and many others are being deprived of the opportunity to benefit from this life-saving drug. After a year’s correspondence with Vertex, she took decisive action by filing an affidavit before the Court of the Commissioner of Patents, a division of the South African High Court.

Her mission is simple: ask the High Court to agree that Vertex is guilty of patent abuse and a violation of human rights and ask the Patents Commissioner to grant a compulsory licence, which will allow the importation of significantly cheaper generic versions of Trikafta. If granted, the legal action will hopefully have ripple effects in other developing countries and on other outrageously expensive life-saving medicines for other illnesses, including cancer.

With the South African Cystic Fibrosis Association, a strong CF community, physicians, and lawyers by her side – not to mention perseverance and grit – Cheri is taking on Big Pharma and fighting for equitable access to medicine for all.