Stated briefly; in general the treatment of breast cancer in India at present is suboptimal. I was reading a book regarding evolution and changes in management of breast cancer and what struck me was that we are still stuck in last decade. Most of the patients present very late in disease process. Breast cancer screening is practically non existent. A number of tests which have become routine like ER and PR status are not available even in teaching government hospitals leave alone general hospitals. And not everyone can afford to get it done from private centers given the cost. This problem extends to post operative period as well with a number of patients unable to afford tamoxifen for the long duration prescribed. In this context it is apparent that majority of patients cannot afford more recent and advanced drugs available.
There is this article in today’s Economic Times.
NGO to seek compulsory licensing of cancer drugs.
At this time the prices of anti cancer drugs is out of reach of general Indian population with prices in excess of
Some of the drugs identified by CPPA for compulsory licensing include Genentech’s and Roche’s Herceptin (Rs 1.3 lakh i.e Rs 130,000 per injection, to be taken 10-15 times), Roche’s Mabthera (Rs 1 lakh per injection, to be taken 10-12 times) and Tarceva (Rs 48,000 for 30 tablets, dosage details not known), Novartis controversial drug Glivec (Rs 1 lakh for a month’s treatment), Astrazeneca’s breast cancer drug Arimidex (Rs 3429 for 14 tablets, to be taken for 1-2 years) and Zoladex (Rs 8,910, dosage details not known), GSK’s Hycamtin (price and dosage details not available).
Keeping in mind that per capita income in India is about 580 $ or Rs 23,000 and the fact that health insurance is an exception rather that a norm any disease (leave alone breast cancer) will leave the entire family in penury. Despite these facts a few patients would like to go for these drugs. What I do not understand is the reluctance of pharma majors to market these drugs and at a lower price. They will be making a profit even if 20% of the patients buy their products. Or are they afraid of these drugs undercutting their high value markets back home?
Do you think this move will be justified?
There is a similar news piece regarding HIV drugs and Cipla. From Pharmalot.