A Generic variant of breast cancer drugs cuts treatment cost by 95 per cent, Health News, ET HealthWorld

A Generic variant of breast cancer drugs cuts treatment cost by 95 per cent

Pune: The generic version of the breast cancer drug, Palbociclib, has slashed treatment costs by 95 per cent in India, medical oncologists told TOI on Friday.

The significant reduction in cost will bring more patients to treatment, increase full compliance with the follow-up (which is long-drawn) and significantly result in higher survival and man-hours productivity, they said.

The branded version of the drug used costs Rs80,000 per month. The generic version, made available from January 17 this year, costs Rs3,800. A patient is advised to take the drug for an average of 18 months.

“The availability of generic Palbociclib will spare expenses to the tune of Rs6,858 crore if we consider a minimum of 50,000 patients on the drug for an average of one-and-a-half years in India,” said Pune-based oncologist Dr Anantbhushan Ranade.

According to the cancer registry in India, around 14 lakh new cancer patients get diagnosed yearly. Of them, around 2.1 lakh are breast cancer patients. Among these, some 1.2 lakh need Palbociclib in combination with hormonal therapies.

Cancer care, even though better than before, still remains inaccessible and unaffordable for many in the country. The pandemic has also had a huge impact on the same, with doctors noticing a rise in patients with advanced-stage cancer post the emergence of Covid. The availability of the generic version of Palbociclib is significant in this context.

“Cost reduction of this frequently used drug is certainly a lifesaver. It will address treatment needs of several advanced breast cancer patients,” said Dr Ranade, former national president of the Indian Society of Medical and Paediatric Oncology (ISMPO), a pan-India body of medical oncologists.

Bengaluru-based senior oncologist Dr K Govind Babu, president, SAARC Federation of Oncology, said, “In cases of advanced or metastatic breast cancer, adding CDK inhibitors like Palbociclib has improved outcomes along with overall survival with two new classes of CDK inhibitors.”

The entry of the generic medicine became possible after Pfizer‘s Indian patent on the product expired this month. As many as 14 Indian pharma companies are currently manufacturing or in the process of manufacturing the generic version.

Dr Jayant Gawande, medical oncologist, Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital, Chinchwad, said, “In India, more than 60 per cent breast cancer patients are hormone receptor-positive, and need Palbociclib. The generic version will make the drug accessible to many. It can become a game changer in their survival.”

Some patients may even need the drug for a prolonged period. “There are some patients who need Palbociclib for up to five years. One can imagine how the generic version is going to bail them out,” said senior medical oncologist Dr Shona Nag.

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