With the approval of a drug for the treatment of newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer with no previous exposure to cytotoxic chemotherapy, patients now have a variety of options.
The drug — ZYTIGA® (abiraterone acetate) — approved by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB), will be used once daily for the treatment of metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer ahead of a chemotherapy regimen.
According to Dr Fred Siyoi, PPB chief executive officer, the approval is expected to make the drugs available and minimise barriers to cancer care.
Dr Siyoi emphasised that cancer drugs will be given priority and that within three months, they will be in the Kenyan market, making the cost of treating the disease cheaper.
“The inspection and certification of the drugs take 24 months, but now we want to do it within three months, giving priority to the essential drugs like cancer,” he said.
He said they were going to ensure that all types of cancer drugs, both generic and innovator, are in the market to give doctors and patients a variety of options.
According to the World Health Organisation, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type in men.
Data reported by the American Cancer Society showed death rates from prostate cancer had either stabilised or declined in dozens of countries thanks to the introduction of new drugs and therapies globally.
In 33 of 44 countries surveyed, the incidence of prostate cancer had stabilised in the last five years for which data was available, and in seven countries, it had declined, the report found.
Only four of the countries surveyed, including Bulgaria, saw an increased incidence of prostate cancer, it said.
"In the most recent five years of data examined, prostate cancer incidence and mortality rates are decreasing or stabilising in most parts of the world," the study's author MaryBeth Freeman said.
Prostate cancer deaths were down in 14 countries surveyed and stable in 54 others. Only three countries experienced a rise in prostate cancer deaths, according to the findings.
The new medicine, manufactured by Janssen, is an innovator (non-generic) oncology management drug and has progressively received international recognition as a broad indication drug for prostate cancer.
"The local approval of the drug helps fill a critical medical need, providing local physicians with an important tool for treating men with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer and also giving them a variety to choose from," Janssen Kenya Country Manager Marseille Onyango said.
He said the drug will be available for all patients including National Hospital Insurance Fund members, who enjoy significant cost savings.
Janssen Kenya Country Medical Affairs Manager Eric Muchangi expressed optimism in the drug, saying it will provide much relief for patients and their families.
“Having the drug as a new therapeutic option in Kenya will provide hope for patients,” said Dr Muchangi.
ZYTIGA works by inhibiting the enzyme complex required for the production of androgens in the testes, adrenals and the prostate tumour tissue.
To ensure a coordinated response to cancer control in Kenya, the National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022 was developed to act as a framework to guide all stakeholders.
The strategy addresses the whole cancer ecosystem from prevention to survivorship and has five pillars: prevention, early detection and screening; diagnosis, registration and surveillance; treatment, palliative care and survivorship; coordination, partnership and financing, and monitoring, evaluation and research.
Cancer ranks as the third cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases in Kenya, causing approximately seven percent of total mortality every year.