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15 March 2006

Discovery to pay for cancer drug

Discovery Health has announced that they will fund the breast cancer drug Herceptin for a full year for members who are not eligible for the short course protocol.

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Discovery Health has announced that they will fund the breast cancer drug Herceptin for a full year for members who are not eligible for the short course protocol.

The genetic profile of a woman with breast cancer can determine her treatment. Women diagnosed with breast cancer and who carry the HER-2/neu gene react very well to certain types of treatment, such as Herceptin, while women with other genes react better to other treatment regimes, according to Health24.

Genetic testing can determine which women, who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, carry the HER-2/neu gene.

Last week Discovery announced that they would fund the drug for the nine-week short course protocol, a decision which followed new treatment guidelines issued by the South African oncology Consortium (SAOC) that said it is reasonable to provide a nine-week course of herceptin where there are financial constraints prohibiting a year-long course of the drug.

However, it has recently been clarified that this treatment regimen is not appropriate for patients commencing the use of Herceptin more than three months (but less than 11 months) after surgery. A one-year regimen is recommended by the SAOC in these cases, according to a press release from Discovery.

"To ensure consistency and equity for current members, who are not eligible for the “short-course” protocol, because more than three months have elapsed since surgery, Herceptin will be covered for the one-year regimen in full for these members only, based on the treatment plan prescribed by their oncologists," the press release said.

“We are pleased to have been able to find a solution which provides all Discovery Health members currently requiring access to Herceptin, as well as members who may require access in the future, full and comprehensive coverage,” said Adrian Gore, CEO of Discovery. – (Health24)

Sources: Press release from Discovery Health and Health24.com

Read more:
Green light for Herceptin, Breast Centre

March 2006

 
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