Monday, December 19, 2011

New pill for advanced lung cancer patients

By Jessica Yeo
Posted: 22 November 2011

SINGAPORE: Lung cancer is the second most common form of cancer in Singaporean men, and the third most common in women.

Now, patients in their fourth stage of the disease can opt to take a pill called Iressa, if they carry a mutated gene known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).

It is estimated that around 40 percent of all patients in Singapore carry this mutation, which is more common in Asians, non-smokers and women.

The Health Sciences Authority approved the drug in December last year.

The pill targets an enzyme found in the mutated gene reactor, which helps to suppress the growth of cancer cells and is said to prolong the patients' lives.

Dr Gilberto De Lima Lopez, a senior consultant with the Department of Medical Oncology at the John Hopkins Singapore International Medical Centre, said: "This drug has a much better ratio of the benefits to the risks that they entail.

"Patients who receive this drug have better response rates and the disease stays under control for longer as well than when they use chemotherapy."

58-year-old retiree Mohamad Yusof Johari was diagnosed with cancer in April and has been on Iressa since then.

He said: "(My) experience with this drug is that you'll have less side effects unlike ordinary chemotherapy. After the third week (after) taking this drug, I see its effectiveness. Quite good."

Channel NewsAsia understands that a month's worth of Iressa costs about S$1,600, after MediSave subsidies. The original cost of the drug is about S$2,600.

Daniel Tan, associate consultant at the National Cancer Centre, said: "These targeted drugs at the moment are covered under the schemes that are available for patients with cancer and the price of the medication is equivalent to chemotherapy in terms of out of pocket expenses."

Iressa is currently available in most hospitals and clinics.


Taken from; source article is below:
New pill for advanced lung cancer patients

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