Patients with the invasive non-small cell lung cancer now have access to a medicine designed to work with the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. In a healthy immune system, the molecule PD-L1, which is found on T-cells, works as a ‘stop switch’ that prevents them from attacking normal cells. Some cancer cells that contain a large amount of PD-L1 can avoid being detected and destroyed by the T-cells. The treatment functions to block the activity of PD-L1, thereby stimulating the immune response against cancer cells
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, with 1.8 million people being diagnosed and 1.6 million succumbing to the disease in 2012 alone. In Malaysia, lung cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer, accounting for 4,088 deaths per year. NSCLC is the more commonly diagnosed category of cancer, accounting for 85% of all lung cancer cases. It can then be further broken down into squamous and non-squamous groups. Common symptoms of lung cancer include persistent coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss.
At the official launch event of TECENTRIQ®, Dato’ Dr. Mohamed Ibrahim bin Dato’ A. Wahid, Medical Director and Consultant Clinical Oncologist said, “One of the main challenges in the treatment of lung cancer is late diagnosis, as patients may not have much symptoms until the cancer has advanced or metastasised. In Malaysia, 75-88% of cases are diagnosed in Stages III or IV 3c, during which treatment is largely to control the tumour or for palliation. The emergence of immunotherapy presents a viable treatment due to its low side effects and high tolerability profiles. It is recommended for patients with advanced disease or whose platinum-based chemotherapy or targeted therapy is not working.”
Approved in 70 countries worldwide, the medicine has treated around 16,000 patients as of end of 2017.
“Compared to other common cancers such as breast cancer, the 5-year survival rate for lung cancer patients remains low at approximately 15% (vs. breast cancer 83-92%) Intensive research on the safety and efficacy of immunotherapy for NSCLC patients have yielded promising indicators of being able to improve patient outcomes, survival rate and quality of life after diagnosis and treatment,” said Professor Dr. Rolf Stahel, Head of the Lung and Thoracic Oncology Centre and Senior Physician, Department of Oncology at a health facility in Switzerland, who was also present during the launch event.
Lance Duan . Managing Director of Roche (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, shared, “Today’s launch is testament to Roche’s firm commitment and dedicated R&D to remain at the forefront of immune-oncology and avail new treatment options for cancer patients. TECENTRIQ® ushers a new chapter in the treatment and prognosis of lung cancer in the country, giving hope to advanced lung cancer patients to live longer and have a better quality of life. Moving forward, Roche’s priority is to channel efforts to work with government and various stakeholders to ensure eligible patients have access to TECENTRIQ® quickly.”
He also added that locally, Roche has a multi-centred clinical study which is much welcomed by the investigators and patients.
“I am pleased to share that from 20 patients, we had extended the patient enrolment to 30, and the study enrolment will end by September 2018, which is ahead of the planned December 2018 timeline. As of today, we had enrolled 25 patients within 5.5 months. With the data collected from the TAIL study, I believe this demonstrates the consistent safety, efficacy and quality of the medicine, which provides reassurance on the value of our treatment for patients.”
TECENTRIQ® has also been included in Roche’s Patient Assistance Programme which is part of Roche’s commitment to help eligible patients access the Roche medicines they are prescribed to. The Roche Patient Assistance Programme is for patients whose medical expenses are not fully covered by insurance, corporate benefit or any other funding from third parties as advised and justified by physicians. Since 2007 to date, more than 5,000 Malaysian patients have benefitted from this on-going initiative.