AstraZeneca Korea’s breast cancer treatment Faslodex (ingredient: fulvestrant) should benefit from insurance coverage, an oncology expert said.
Faslodex obtained approval in November as an endocrine therapy for postmenopausal patients with progressive or metastatic breast cancer who are hormone receptor positive (HR+) and human epithelial cell growth factor receptor 2 negative (HER2-). The treatment can be used as the first-line monotherapy.
Faslodex can also be used as a combination therapy with Pfizer’s Ibrance for progressive or metastatic breast cancer in HR+ and HER2- females whose disease progressed after the endocrine treatment.
Park Kyong-hwa, professor of oncology at Korea University Anam Hospital, said that Faslodex, which proved efficacy in prolonging survival period, should get insurance coverage because only a limited number of endocrine therapies are reimbursed. Her comments came at AstraZeneca Korea’s news conference at JW Marriott Hotel in Seoul, Thursday.
“Clinical guidelines recommend using endocrine therapies three times consecutively before moving on to more toxic chemotherapy. But only a limited number of endocrine therapies are covered by insurance,” Park said. “Before Faslodex, no medication proved prolonged survival with good drug tolerability.”
She emphasized that there was no other therapy for patients with difficulty in oral administration or poor compliance than Faslodex, amid the increasing population of the elderly. Faslodex will be able to meet such clinical demands, Park said.
As Ibrance is not covered by insurance from the second-line treatment, the combination therapy of Ibrance and Faslodex is financially burdensome for patients, she added.
Faslodex is administered in a 500mg dose on the first, 15th, and 29th day. Then, it is given once a month. The treatment costs about 1 million won ($935) per month.
Breast cancer is on the rise in Korea. It is the most notable cancer in female cancer. Breast cancer takes up about 25 percent of all female cancer around the world, Park said.
“People tend to think that breast cancer has a high five-year survival rate at 92.3 percent. But it also has high recurrence rate. Breast cancer does not recur in the early stages but recurs even after 20 years,” she added. “Young patients should be aware that it is important to continue treatment with hormone inhibitors.”
The European Oncology Society (ESO)-European Society for Cancer Research (ESMO) guidelines recommend Faslodex as the first-line endocrine therapy for breast cancer.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN), an alliance of cancer centers in the U.S., recommends Faslodex as a monotherapy and combination therapy under Category 1 for progressive and metastatic breast cancer in patients after menopause or those who are HR+ and HER2-.
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>