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Lilly Korea’s gastric cancer drug gets expanded reimbursement
  • By Marian Chu
  • Published 2018.05.02 17:13
  • Updated 2018.05.02 17:13
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The Korean branch of Eli Lilly and Company said that its gastric cancer therapy Cyramza would get reimbursed starting this month after gaining the go-ahead from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service on Apr. 25.

“Over the last decade, many targeted therapies and new drugs have been tested in gastric cancer, but Cyramza is the first drug, since trastuzumab, that has significantly improved the survival of gastric cancer patients,” said Professor Oh Do-yeon from Seoul National University Hospital’s department of oncology.

Professor Oh Do-yeon from Seoul National University Hospital’s department of oncology talks about the efficacy of Cyramza at a press conference held in downtown Seoul Wednesday.

“Despite the drug’s efficacy, it was not reimbursed. This led to the drug not being used in the actual clinical setting,” Oh added. “With the insurance coverage now, many gastric cancer patients in Korea have had their treatment options expanded, raising expectations on the improved outcome of treatment.”

The reimbursement will apply to advanced or metastatic gastric or gastric adenocarcinoma patients who did not benefit from first-line treatment of fluoropyrimidine with platinum (cisplatin, oxaliplatin) and an anthracycline (doxorubicin, epirubicin), and who have an ECOG (Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group) Performance Status of either 0 or 1.

The decision to grant the coverage was based data from the RAINBOW clinical trial that pitted a Cyramza-paclitaxel combination against paclitaxel alone to find statistically significant improvement in both overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS), the company said.

In the RAINBOW study, Cyramaza slashed mortality risks by 19.3 percent compared to paclitaxel alone (9.6 months vs. 7.4 months). The overall survival rate at the one-year mark was 40 percent for the Cyramza arm and 30 percent for the placebo arm. The Cyramza-paclitaxel combo arm also cut the risk of disease progression and disease progression on the progression-free survival index by 36.5 percent compared to paclitaxel alone.

The results, Lilly Korea said, served as the foundation for Cyramza to be recommended in global guidelines, the company said. Cyramza is currently recommended as a Category 1 by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and European Society for Medical Oncology. The Japanese Gastric Cancer Association guideline also outlines Cyramza and Paclitaxel combination therapy as the new standard of care for second-line treatment for gastric cancer.

“Gastric cancer is the typical cancer type that threatens the livelihood of Koreans. The reimbursement of Cyramza is significant to Korean gastric cancer patients and their families who had to endure the pain from both the disease and financial difficulties,” said Lilly Korea’s CEO Paul Henry Huibers.

Korea Lilly will continue to devote itself to the supply of innovative new drugs such as Cyramza so that patients and medical professionals can present a new therapeutic paradigm in areas of high medical demand, he added.

Gastric cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in Korea with data from the Ministry of Health and Welfare showing around 30,000 people diagnosed with gastric cancer in 2015. About 30 to 40 percent of them had uncontrollable locally progressive or metastatic cancer.


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