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Allow generic drugs for cancer patients
Published on: Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Kota Kinabalu: Fighting cancer can be a choice between bankruptcy and death even for an upper middle class family in Malaysia, let alone lower income. "Some 46pc of cancer-stricken households often use up their savings, with 22pc being unable to pay their rent or mortgage and about 20pc discontinuing their cancer medicine when facing imminent death.

President of "Together Against Cancer" Society, Malaysia, Wong Kuan Sing, an advocacy group consisting of cancer survivors, researchers etc, said:

"Many advanced stage lung cancer patients, after they stop responding to the first line of therapies, die as second line drugs offered to them that can prolong life cost more than RM10,000 a month," said Wong.

He said advanced prostate cancer patients who failed and/or become resistant to initial hormone therapy, failed to get effective second line therapies to prolong life due to its high cost.

Speaking at a gathering for prostate cancer survivors under its support group at the Queen Elizabeth general hospital in Kota Kinabalu, he thanked Francis Chan, who initiated the programme, and said members would be benefiting more from the group's future activities.

Wong said generic drugs manufactured by companies in India proved to be effective and cost one-tenth the price of patented ones and could solve the survivors' predicaments.

"We propose that generic but effective drugs be speedily registered, especially ex-patented drugs like Zytiga, for advanced prostate cancer."

The Health Ministry was thanked for registering the generic form of Herceptin for breast cancer.

The Ministry with the pharmaceutical industry should agree on a more affordable and realistic price structure to suit patients' paying capability, he said, adding immediate registration of good quality generic cancer medication would bring about a healthy competition of drug prices within the country.

Prostate Cancer Support Malaysia Association is encouraging all states to form local support groups under the association to look after the State.

Francis Chan, who leads the Sabah support group, extended his appreciation to Wong who flew from KL to meet members in Sabah.

"Before I took over this year, quarterly activities have been going on for the past two years.

"The purpose of this gathering is to establish a platform for Prostate Cancer survivors to share with each other on their ailments and wellbeing.

"QEH1 will assign doctors and nurses to support the group and update or answer any questions raised by the survivors," he said.

"At each meeting, there will be a selected topic with assigned speakers to share on issues beneficial to survivors," said Chan.

Francis said efforts are being done to improve and to do list of activities benefiting its members.

He took the challenge to initiate the group in Sabah when Wong proposed to him about setting up one in the state capital.

"We saw the need to come to Sabah to support Francis. He did wonderfully to set up the support group. "We are seeing people being happy despite their condition."

Wong said there are 12 branches of prostate support groups all over Malaysia and each state is doing their best to help assisting the current members on the updates of the medical issues.

Here's Wong's advice to cancer victims:

1. Always monitor prostate cancer every three months;

2. Don't go for alternate medicine – don't believe that drinking lemon juice is 10 times stronger then chemo. Stick to the mainstream medicine.

3. Follow your doctor's advice but you can go for second opinion.

4. Do exercise as it strengthens your bones and muscles. Walking is one of the best.

"Lastly, always attend your support group meeting. From there you can update each other's progress. It makes a lot of difference," he said. - Lorena Binisol



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