Expensive breast cancer drug to be available for free at Delhi institute, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Expensive breast cancer drug to be available for free at Delhi institute

New Delhi: The Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI) will become the first facility in the country to offer breast cancer drug Phesgo free of cost to patients.

DSCI is a dedicated cancer hospital under Delhi government.

Phesgo is a mixed dose formulation combining two monoclonal antibodies. The drug was approved by the USFDA in June 2020 and by the DCGI in India in October 2021. The import licence was granted in January this year.

The cost of the medicine usually ranges from Rs 2.8 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. For DSCI, the purchasing cost of the drug is being taken care of by the state government.

“In August, we held the first trial on a 39-year-old woman who had HER2 Neu amplified invasive grade-3 breast cancer. The patient has received four cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) and she was satisfied with the short drug administrative time,” said Dr Pragya Shukla from DSCI.

For the administration of the drug, the hospital has enrolled new patients. Those whose treatment is already on cannot avail the medicine.

Phesgo treatment has shown good results in HER2 breast cancer cases. “There are more patients in the pipeline — about 10 have been enrolled so far and others who fulfil the criteria will be added. We are waiting for hospital administrative clearance,” said Dr Shukla.

However, not all women diagnosed with breast cancer are eligible for the usage of this drug. Phesgo is given only to patients with HER2 breast cancer. In such cases, a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) promotes the growth of cancer cells.

“HER2 is found in about 30% of breast cancer patients in India. It is considered a very aggressive form of breast cancer,” Dr Shukla said.

Dr Kishore Singh, director of the hospital, said financial clearance at the administrative level is awaited and the service will kick off very soon.

Phesgo is a fixed-dose subcutaneous formulation that combines Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab). When the drug is injected, the hyaluronidase makes the tissue under the skin temporarily more absorbent so that it is able to receive the medication. Once absorbed by the patient’s body, Perjeta and Herceptin in Phesgo work the same way to treat HER2 breast cancer.

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