KINGSTON: The Government of Jamaica has signed a contract with Roche, a global leader in diagnostic and pharmaceutical products that will make a new cancer medication available to local breast cancer patients.
The medication is Herceptin Subcutaneous (SC), an agent commonly used in the treatment of early stage Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (HER) 2 Positive breast cancer. Herceptin is a cellular antibody that inhibits the protein that fuels tumour growth and should be used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy treatment.
The product was launched last week.
Health Minister, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, said that Herceptin SC would be a valuable addition to the country’s cancer treatment system.
“This is an achievement that is set to revolutionize the landscape for the treatment of HER 2 Positive breast cancer,” he said.
Citing breast cancer as the fifth leading cause of death in Jamaican women, Dr. Ferguson said that a crucial area for reducing deaths from this disease is early detection.
“Early detection, in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival, remains the fundamental cornerstone in managing the disease,” he said. “As we continue to push for early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival, we recognize that strong and fruitful partnerships like this one will help us achieve this goal.”
Stewart Dougan, the country manager for Roche Pharma Jamaica and Cayman, which will distribute the product, said the medication is now available to the public at several institutions island wide.
However, he cautioned that it should only be administered by a licensed health care professional.
“You can go to any of the three approved hospitals (Kingston Public, Cornwall Regional and Mandeville),” he said. “For the private system, persons can go to any oncologist to have them manage the treatment. It is a highly specialized product that is intended for use by these medical doctors.”
The Swiss-based Roche is a global leader in cancer treatment and research for over 50 years, producing medications that assist in the treatment of breast, skin, colon, ovarian, lung and numerous other cancers. It operates in over 150 countries.