[Ip-health] Fwd: statement on launch of the biosimilar of the breast cancer drug trastuzumab

leena menghaney leenamenghaney at gmail.com
Sat Jan 18 06:55:39 PST 2014

Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab - Bio-similar of breast cancer launched
but needs to be made affordable

 18 January 2014, New Delhi: The Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab
welcomes the long awaited announcement that the Indian pharmaceutical
company Biocon will now market a bio-similar of the breast cancer drug
trastuzumab. The biosimilar to be marketed under the brand name of CANMAb
is expected to be available in the Indian market from 1 February 2014 and
will be sold at a price of Rs.19, 500/- per vial of 150 mg.

 The marketing of the bio-similar so soon after the removal of patent
barriers vindicates our stand in challenging and opposing the secondary
patents and divisional patents on trastuzumab sought by Roche in India. We
urge patients organisations and civil society groups in other countries to
remain vigilant and resist similar unethical attempts by pharma majors to
reap unethical profits at the cost of millions of lives.

 Announcing the launch of the biosimilar, Ms. Kiran Majumdar-Shaw, CEO
Biocon, reiterated her commitment to affordable treatment for Indian women
with HER2+ breast cancer. However, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation
reveals that the introduction of the bio-similar will make little or no
difference to women whose income is less than Rs.30,000/- per month. For
these women – who constitute 75% of the population[1] and include not only
the very poor but also the aspiring middle class - CANMAb is as much out of
reach as Roche’s Herceptin and Herclon.

 Realistically, only families with an income of Rs 50,000/- or more can
afford a monthly dose of CANMAb. Such families constitute less than 10% of
the population. Biocon's expectation that the introduction of CANMAb will
“expand the patient pool” is therefore unlikely to become reality.

 We urge Biocon to demonstrate their commitment to affordable treatment by
bringing the price of CANMAb to below Rs.5000/- per vial. This will not
only give Indian women with HER2+ breast cancer a chance for a healthy and
productive life, but will expand the patient pool far beyond the borders of
the country and bring relief to the millions of women in developing
countries who are battling this disease.

 We also call on the Government of India to take decisive steps to regulate
the prices of biologicals (whether originators or biosimilars) like
trastuzumab and pegylated interferon that are currently priced out of reach
of the majority of those whose lives these drugs can save.

 [1]  Income distribution figures based on NCAER data for 2010

* Trastuzumab from Roche was first marketed in India at Rs.1.2 lakhs and
then reduced to Rs.92,000/- and then to Rs.75,000/-.

For further information, please contact:

Kalyani Menon-Sen +91-9910306382

Leena Menghaney +91-9811365412

Background documents and updates from the Campaign for Affordable

 August 2013: Press Release, Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab welcomes
the dismissal of Trastuzumab’s divisional patent applications,

August 2013: Statement, Roche relinquishes Trastuzumab patent in India,
Campaign urges approval of biosimilars,

January 2013: Compulsory License for Anti-Cancer Drugs – Update from
Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab, http://infojustice.org/archives/28247

March 2013:

November 2012: Letter to Indian Prime Minister

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