Key anti-cancer drug Erubulin to be affordable now

A landmark breast cancer drug that so far remained out of reach of underprivileged patients in the country is set to become affordable in the coming months.
Hyderabad-based Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) has developed the technology, which will enable pharma companies develop a generic version of the top anti-breast cancer drug Erubulin and launch it in the Indian market in the coming months this year.
Approved in 50 countries worldwide for extending the life of patients struggling with advanced and aggressive breast cancer for a long time, Erubulin was out of reach of women hailing from families with limited financial resources.
IICT has already identified a pharmaceutical company which will launch the generic Erubulin drug in the coming months. An announcement to this effect is expected to be timed with the Platinum Jubilee Celebrations of the research institute to be held around August this year.


The team of researchers from IICT led by its Director, Dr. Srivari Chandrasekhar, a senior technologist well-known for his research oriented towards drug development, have succeeded in finding a way to synthesize key fragments of Erubulin, which will eventually pave the way to manufacture the drug on a bigger and cost effective scale.
The IICT scientific team has already transferred the technology to a private pharmaceutical company, which will be able to manufacture the generic form of anti-cancer drug without attracting the regulations under the stringent International Patent laws.
At present, in India, Japan-based pharmaceutical company, Eisai Co.Ltd, through its Indian subsidiary Easai Pharmaceuticals India Pvt Ltd, retails the anti-cancer agent under the brand name Halaven.
The novel drug was approved in India in April, 2013 for treatment of locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer. However, according to senior oncologists here, due to high import duty, the anti-cancer drug is prohibitively expensive in India.

High cost

A single vial of Erubulin is retailed anywhere between Rs. 30,000 and Rs. 40,000 and depending on the body weight and condition of the cancer, oncologists advice the number of cycles for each patient.
For three to four cycles of chemotherapy with Erubulin drug, patients end up spending anywhere between Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 5.5 lakh. Due to its high cost, a large number of breast cancer patients in India are unable to afford the drug of choice.
“Erubulin is an internationally approved drug of choice for breast cancer patients. A generic version of the drug will bring down the cost drastically. This will not only make the drug affordable but also will extend the life of the women,” says senior oncologist, MNJ Cancer Hospital, Dr C Sairam.


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