Medical infrastructure is a major challenge in oncology: Shukrit Chimote

 In India where more than one lakh patients get diagnosed with cancer every year, the lack of medical infrastructure for cancer patients is a major challenge, leading to explosion of cancer cases in future. As per the WHO’s latest assessment, cancer cases in India, which are currently 4 million, may multiply five times by 2025.

“The reasons could be tobacco and smoke related habits, environmental pollution, increased consumption of processed meat and food, besides other factors. The rate of patients’ growth is higher than the infrastructure available. In metro cities, we have healthcare facilities with all three arms of oncology, i.e. radiation, surgical and chemotherapy treatments. Whereas, the treatment facility is not available in most of tier I and tier II cities, which is a major challenge with which the country is dealing,” Shukrit Chimote, CEO of Sayre Therapeutics, told ETHealthworld.

Sayre Therapeutics seeks to fill the gaps in providing cancer diagnosis and treatment in India by bringing in international drugs, devices and diagnostics to the country at an affordable cost.

Recently, Sayre Therapeutics entered into an exclusive license agreement with US-based Navidea Biopharmaceuticals for the development and commercialization of Tc99m tilmanocept in India.

“Tc99m tilmanocept is the only US FDA approved drug in the world for lymph node biopsy in patients with clinically node negative breast cancer. We aim to bring these advanced technologies in cost effective manner in India with a vision that every patient can avail the benefits of these drugs and devices. Moreover, these international products are strongly backed by rigorous clinical trials and evidences. We hope that Indian regulatory framework will evolve the pace with which approvals are passed,” said Chimote.

As per a report published in The Lancet, nearly 70% cancer patients die in India because of delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment for poor cancer survivals.

“One of the most important factors is the late detection of cancer because the country doesn’t have much early diagnosis screenings available, as compared to the western world. Hence, morbidity rate in cancer in India is 4-6 times greater than it is in US. Also, the doctor and patient ratio is low too in the country. For every 1600 odd cancer cases, there is only one doctor in India. While in US, the doctor patient ratio is 1:100 and in UK, it is 1:400. The affordability of cancer treatments is also one big reason because the baseline treatment cost is Rs 3-5 lakh and can go up to Rs 10-15 lakh. People are not able to spend this much in cancer treatment; neither do they have medical insurance for cancer. I think a lot needs to be done in the oncology care for public,” said Chimote.

To tackle the challenges, some of the solutions could be introducing cost effective early diagnosis through screenings, creating a cancer registry and capturing data of the patients to focus on quality treatment and health outcomes, and increasing the focus on integrated cancer delivery model, suggested Chimote.

He further said, “There is a need for public private partnerships that can decentralize the cancer care delivery, so that everyone in tier I and II cities can avail the best treatment. We also need to reduce the burden of the disease through awareness and advocacy.”

“Our focus is on bringing international products to India at the much affordable pricing. For example, in our portfolio, we have a proficient diagnostics for carcinoma of unknown primary which is from a US-based company. There was no such treatment available in India till we brought it. In US, the diagnostic costs $3,500 while in India we made it available for only $800-900, a price that patients in need will be able to avail it. This is how we expand the care by bringing in these advanced medical technology and drugs to the nation,” added Chimote.



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