SA weighs shorter treatment for patients on Roche cancer drug

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The Health Department is considering shortening breast cancer treatment for patients eligible for Roche’s costly trastuzumab, in the wake of a large study that found halving the duration of therapy to six months was just as effective as a year, and reduced the risk of dangerous heart problems.

Business Day reports that the high cost of trastuzumab has been a barrier to treatment in both the public and private sector in South Africa. The Health Department only added it to its treatment guidelines in 2017, and provision of the drug by provincial health departments has remained limited due to its price.

The Health Department’s Yogan Pillay said the Persephone trial was important, and the department planned to commission a rapid review from the Cochrane Centre in Cape Town to help determine whether or not to shorten the duration of treatment.

Business Day report

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