A federal judge has ordered that the state provide former death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal with a hepatitis C medication pending a doctor's examination, following calls from protesters late last year.
Abu-Jamal must be examined by a doctor within two weeks to determine if there's any medical reason he should not receive the drugs, U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani ruled. If none is found, the state is compelled to provide the prisoner with DAAs, a direct-acting antiviral medication, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Abu-Jamal is serving a life sentence at a state prison in Mahanoy for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Protests ignited last year urging the state to provide Abu-Jamal with an anti-viral medication, but the Department of Corrections has argued in the past that he hasn't met required criteria to receive treatment.
DAAs can range from $51,000 to $66,000 or more, according to a May 2016 report filed with the National Institutes of Health.
About 7,000 Pennsylvania inmates have been diagnosed with hepatitis C. Treating them would cost $600 million, the Inky reported.
In 2015, Abu-Jamal was diagnosed with the viral infection after diabetic shock sent him to the prison infirmary. His supporters said jailers knew about the disease since 2012, but failed to treat the disease, Metro previously reported.
Previously on death row, Abu-Jamal's death sentence was commuted to life in prison in 2014.
Thirty-five years ago, the activist-turned-journalist was arrested for fatally shooting Faulkner. Appeals at the state and federal level — based on racial bias, ineffective assistance of counsel and complaints that the judge confused the jury — were all denied.