WHO Announces Cheaper Biosimilar Drug For Breast Cancer Treatment, Making It Easily Accessible For All
It was announced yesterday by the World Health Organization
) that it had for the first time approved a "biosimilar" medicine, one derived from living sources rather than chemicals, to make breast cancer
treatment affordable to women globally.
The drug Trastuzumab
has shown "high efficacy" in curing early stage breast cancer
and in some cases more advanced forms of the disease, the WHO
said in a media statement.
Unfortunately, the annual cost of the original drug is about more than US$20,000, "a price that puts it out of reach of many women and healthcare systems in most countries," the media statement added.
The biosimilar version of trastuzumab
is however about 65 percent cheaper than the original. "With this WHO
listing, and more products expected in the prequalification pipeline, prices should decrease even further," the WHO
The much cheaper but equally effective biotherapeutic medicines are produced from biological sources such as cells rather than synthesised chemicals.
Typically, they are usually manufactured by companies after the patent on the original product has expired.
Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Thailand Medical
News via a phone interview, "WHO
prequalification of biosimilar trastuzumab
is good news for women everywhere. Women in many cultures suffer from gender disparity when it comes to accessing health services. In poor countries, there is the added burden of a lack of access to treatment for many, and the high cost of medicines.Effective, affordable breast cancer treatment should be a right for all women, not the privilege of a few.”
Despite a few biosimilars of trastuzumab coming on the market in recent years, but none had previously been prequalified by WHO
prequalification gives countries the assurance that they are purchasing "quality health products".
Dr Mariangela Simao, WHO
assistant director general for Medicines and Health Products. "We need to act now and try to avoid more preventable deaths.The availability of biosimilars has decreased prices, making even innovative treatments more affordable and hopefully available to more people."
The announcement of the cheaper breast cancer
drug was welcomed by many government and health officials, healthcare professionals and hospitals worldwide as breast cancer
is becoming a huge burden with increasing cases each year. Each year about 2.5 million cases of breast cancer are detected while about more than 640,000 women die from it annually.