Kolkata, Oct 20: India could reap the benefits of new targetted cancer therapy provided its drug control authority allows the import of expensive cancer drugs, an expert said Sunday.
Drugs like Imatinib and molecules like monoclonal antibodies – made by identical immune cells – are being increasingly deployed across the world to attack cancer cells specifically without causing harm to normal body cells.
In India, these advanced therapeutic agents prove really expensive and their official access would cut down costs.
“The side-effects are much lower than traditional therapy agents. But some of the latest medicines antibodies and small molecules are really expensive. Most from the middle class and lower class families would find it tough to afford them,” Mammen Chandy, director of Tata Medical Centre told IANS here.
“Some of them are fantastic… the nicer thing would be if our drug control authority were more proactive in allowing us to import these molecules without any restrictions,” he said.
Chandy was speaking at the “Medicon International 2013″ organised by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in collaboration with the Peerless Hospital and B.K. Roy Research Centre, Kolkata.
“If we import them through official channels we wouldn’t have problem of paying high prices to middlemen,” he said.
Chandy added that another way through which the cutting-edge interventions could be made accessible to patients was through a compassionate-use basis — treatment of a seriously ill patient using investigative or unapproved drugs when other options fail or were unavailable.
“The hope is that some companies will allow us to use them on a compassionate basis and provide the drug and once they are out of patent, Indian industry will quickly produce them. Because we have signed WTO (World Trade Organisation) protocol, we can’t violate international rules,” he added.
Chandy pointed out that even though some Indian drug makers are developing medicine with the targeted-therapy approach, the issue of generating drugs still under patent control needs to be addressed.