Breast cancer patients from low income groups who need targeted therapy for their condition can now have affordable access to this treatment. Roche Malaysia and Beacon Hospital, Malaysia’s leading cancer specialist hospital, launched the Targeted Therapy Welfare Fund today, to help reduce the financial burden of breast cancer patients.
This corporate responsibility initiative provides eligible HER2-positive breast cancer patients with targeted medicines at a lower cost. HER2-positive cancer is an aggressive type of breast cancer that grows and multiplies rapidly, and affects 1 in every 5 breast cancer patients worldwide1. The anti HER2 treatment for patients has been proven to improve survival and outcome for patients with early & late stage HER2+ breast cancer. In the private sector, it can cost approximately RM8,000 to RM10,000 or more per treatment. Patients may require up to 18 injections for a complete treatment. This will undeniably help reduce the financial burden of many patients who need this life saving medicine. Depriving the high risk patients of the treatment will result in early relapse or even premature death.
Datuk Seri Dr. Haji Dzulkefly bin Ahmad, the Minister of Health, commended the two organisations for launching the welfare fund. “The government understands the plight of breast cancer women in lower income bracket and knows there is more that can be done. Whilst we have allocated budget to support this group, the private sectors can also do more to bridge the access gap for these women. As such, I applaud those in the private sector who step up to assist these women. I hope the partnership between Roche Malaysia and Beacon Hospital will serve as an exemplary corporate responsibility initiative for other pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organisations.”
Dato’ Dr. Ibrahim Wahid, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at Beacon Hospital said with breast cancer being the most common form of cancer affecting Malaysian women, treating the disease continues to remain a key challenge for healthcare sectors. He said, “Another issue that we always face when looking after patients is their financial challenges. Whilst breast cancer is a treatable condition, patients are not able to access the treatment they need due to affordability. Helping alleviate the financial burden of cancer patients is not new to Beacon Hospital. As part of our mission of giving back to the community, Beacon Hospital had launched the Beacon’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme in 2011.”
“Since the programme conception, various CSR activities have been implemented, including Radiotherapy Welfare Fund, Breast Cancer Chemotherapy Welfare Fund and Free Cancer Clinics. To-date, a staggering RM12 million has been channeled to charitable deeds. Our collaboration with Roche Malaysia enables us to extend our corporate responsibility efforts to underprivileged breast cancer patients and to further close the patient access gap, especially to innovative treatments,” said Dato’ Ibrahim.
The targeted therapy fund is available to Malaysian patients, nationwide, especially for those who have exhausted their finances or have insufficient insurance coverage. Under this programme, patients will need to pay only less than RM3,000 per cycle, hence reducing the cost substantially. All applicants will be required to go through an interview process and assessments which may only take up to 3 days before they can access the treatment at Beacon Hospital.
“Beacon Breast Care Clinic provides all breast care services, led by a team of multi-disciplinary professionals comprising of experienced oncologists, breast surgeons, plastic and reconstructive surgeons, radiologists, breast care nurses and support staffs under one roof. At Beacon, we understand patients’ anxiety and aim to provide patients with prompt investigations, reduce their waiting time with early and accurate diagnosis and access to latest treatments,” Dato Ibrahim added.
Lance Duan, General Manager of Roche Malaysia said cancer has a huge impact on patients’ financial wellbeing. “Cancer can be a major cause of financial hardship for patients. The ACTION (ASEAN Costs in Oncology) Study which assess the impact of cancer on household economic wellbeing, patients’ survival and quality of life in eight ASEAN countries including Malaysia, showed that more than 75% of cancer patients in Southeast Asia experience death or financial catastrophe 1 year after diagnosis2. The study also found patients with low income have greater chances of financial catastrophe or death2,” he added.
To help these groups of patients, Roche has initiated ‘Roche Cares’ – a co-payment model involving Roche, patients and funders (for example healthcare and non-governmental organisations, charitable corporations, and others) to reduce financial hurdle of patients in accessing innovative treatments. The ‘Roche Cares’ co-payment model was realised today with Beacon Hospital under the Targeted Therapy Welfare Fund.
“Roche understands the local healthcare needs of patients, and are embarking on a public-private partnership collaboration to provide innovative solutions, while increasing patients’ accessibility to our medicines. This approach is in line with today’s welfare fund launch, and we look forward to emulate this model with other funders as well as our government stakeholders. In addition, we have plans to expand this programme to other therapeutic areas, besides the breast cancer space, and making this sustainable for patients.”
The Targeted Therapy Welfare Fund for Breast Cancer is a Corporate Responsibility (CR) programme initiated by Roche Malaysia and Beacon Hospital. Under this programme, deserving early breast cancer patients in the adjuvant setting are given access to the targeted therapy (up to 18 cycles) at a subsidized rate. For more information about this welfare fund, kindly contact Beacon Hospital CSR Department,
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Wolff AC, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31(31):3997-4013.
The George Institute, ASEAN Costs In Oncology “Cancer and its economic impact on households in the ASEAN countries” (ACTION) study.