Rajasthan News

Rajasthan govt to provide free cancer drugs

by RajasthanDirect
Apr 21, 2013

In a major relief for blood cancer patients, the state’s health department is all set to provide Imatinib tablets (“magic bullet” tablets) free of cost to them. The government’s decision follows the April 1 Supreme Court decision to dismiss Swiss drug maker Novartis AG’s attempt to win patent protection for its cancer drug Glivec (Imatinib).

Currently the tablet is sold in the market by Novartis at a cost of Rs 1.23 lakh per packet which contains 30 tablets. Blood cancer (chronic myeloid leukemia) patients are required to take one tablet each day for the rest of their life.

Now under the chief minister’s Free Medicine scheme, the state will provide a generic version of the tablet free of cost to cancer patients.

The Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation (RMSC) will provide the drug at special counters that have been set up at government hospitals ever since the free medicine scheme was launched on October 2011.

According to sources, the government will also provide 14 new anti-cancer drugs free of cost apart from the 25 anti-cancer drugs it is already giving under the scheme. Altogether, the government will be providing 39 anti-cancer drugs free of cost to patients.

RMSC managing director Dr Samit Sharma said, “We have begun the process of tender for procuring the medicine. We will procure generic medicine for Imatinib from some private pharma company. The idea is to help those cancer patients who cannot buy the medicine due to its high cost.”

Five companies have already shown interest in the tender and they are Cipla, Glenmark, Naprod Life Sciences, United Biotech India and West Coast pharmaceuticals.

According to Dr Sandeep Jasuja, oncologist at Sawai Man Singh hospital, “Blood cancer patients have to take one tablet of Imatinib every day. Daily one tablet of Imatinib could increase the life of the patient for more than 20 years. It is a magic bullet for cancer treatment. If the patient is not able to afford it or does not have the money to continue with the drug, then he may die within one to two years.”

He said that every month, 10-12 new patients are detected with blood cancer at SMS hospital and it is one of the most common cancer among adults. At SMS hospital, nearly 300 blood cancer patients are on Imatinib therapy. While one particular company is selling generic versions of Imatinib for Rs 3,454 (per packet of 30 pills) another is selling it for Rs 10,560.

src: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-04-21/india/38709905_1_blood-cancer-cancer-patients-cancer-treatment

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