August 25, 2015 Press Release:
Medical Neglect nearly killed Abu-Jamal in March; Now the DOC refuses lifesaving treatment
August 24, 2015: Attorneys for political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal filed a motion for preliminary injunction in “Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes” today with Judge Robert Mariani in the Middle District of Pennsylvania seeking a federal court order to ensure that prison medical staff provide immediate life- saving hepatitis C treatment to Mumia Abu-Jamal. Abu-Jamal is incarcerated at SCI Mahanoy in Frackville PA. Please see today’s filings here as well as the first amended complaint here.
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) medical staff and DOC counsel have refused Abu-Jamal’s demand for treatment and denied letters from his lawyers and independent doctors documenting the critical need for immediate treatment. Medically necessary treatment for hepatitis C consists of new antiviral drugs that have a 95% cure rate, and consists of one pill per day over the course of 12 weeks with minimal side effects.
Blood tests for the hepatitis C viral load done in July at the insistence of Abu-Jamal, his lawyers, and consulting doctors have confirmed that Abu-Jamal has active hepatitis C, which is most likely the underlying cause of his year-long, escalating health crisis.
Mumia Abu-Jamal remains weak and sick in the prison infirmary. He is currently not receiving treatment for a persistent and debilitating skin condition that is itchy and painful. Mr. Abu-Jamal has already suffered two hospitalizations, one a near fatal episode after SCI Mahanoy’s medical staff refused to treat or even monitor his dramatic and dangerously excessive blood glucose level, leading to diabetic shock. Every day that medically indicated treatment is denied carries the significant risk of continued and irreversible injury.
On March 30, 2015, Abu-Jamal was rushed to the hospital after losing consciousness and going into diabetic shock. Although prison medical staff was 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.
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. Please see the 1st amended complaint Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes here.
Abu-Jamal is represented by Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center and Robert J. Boyle of New York
Free All Political Prisoners!