BREAST CANCER AND TRASTUZUMAB ACCESS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Download the Cancer Alliance Fact Sheet BREAST CANCER and HER2+ BREAST CANCER WITH A LOOK AT TRASTUZUMAB ACCESS IN SOUTH AFRICA
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in South Africa. It is also the second highest cancer killer of our women. At least 1 in 27 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Of these 26% will be diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer. Adjuvant treatment (Treatment that is given in addition to the primary (initial) treatment to maximise its effectiveness) is provided in the form of trastuzumab.
Trastuzumab binds to the human epidermal growth factor receptors – which are overexpressed in women with HER2 positive cancer – thus inhibiting the proliferation of tumour cells. This life saving medicine was added to the WHO Essential Medicines List in 2015 and thanks to the successful advocacy of Cancer Alliance and FTPL members it was added to the SA Essential Medicines List in 2017.
To date only the originator trastuzumab Herceptin® and Herclon® are available in South Africa. The originator product Herceptin® is available in the private sector but remains unaffordable for the majority of women. Secondary patents for this medicine could block the entry of competitor products until 2026.
“Financial toxicity” is well reported as a twin ailment in cancer treatment. This is a reality for many women. Access to affordable medicine remains a basic human right.
- To make trastuzumab available to members of the private sector on the same equitable basis as in the public sector. There is no difference between the originator product Herceptin® and the clone product Herclon®. Only the packaging and the name are different!
- To confirm publicly that neither Roche nor Genentech will seek to assert to ongoing patents related to trastuzumab or trastuzumab emtansine to impede the entry of new biogeneric products in South Africa, including the new Mylan product. This action will facilitate the entry of biogeneric products that will stimulate competition and ensure affordable access.
- To provide greater transparency into research, development and production costs to allow more informed judgements about the division of resources.