Dramatic price reduction of trastuzumab in Malaysia

Biosimilars/General | Posted 07/06/2019 post-comment0 Post your comment

The price of the cancer drug trastuzumab has dropped by more than half in Malaysia following a recent tender to the Ministry of Health.

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Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that interferes with the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)/neu receptor. In some cancers, notably certain types of breast and gastric cancers, HER2 is overexpressed, and causes cancer cells to reproduce uncontrollably.

In December 2018, a biosimilar version of trastuzumab which costs approximately 50% of the price of the originator trastuzumab was approved in Malaysia. Following this, the Ministry of Health called for an open tender. The tender was awarded to the originator brand company, which reduced the original price of trastuzumab by 52%.

Patients treated in ministry hospitals are subject to treatment charges according to the Fees (Medical) (Amendment) Order 2017. Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Health Director-General, has said the recent price reduction of trastuzumab would increase patient access by allowing more patients to be treated with trastuzumab in the ministry hospitals.

‘With the available budget provided to the ministry, a higher volume can be purchased, hence, more patients will benefit from this’, he said.

Patients in private hospitals are also expected to benefit from the price reduction as the originator brand company is likely to offer a similar or lower price to the biosimilar.

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