The Government hospitals did not have proper supplementary medicines used with chemotherapy for early-stage breast cancer, it was revealed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate corruption of the current administration, today.
“The currently used drug, Herticad, which is used to treat early-stage breast cancer patients, is not suitable for treating them,” the Commission was told.
President of Sri Lanka College of Oncologists (SLCO) Dehan Gunasekara informed the Commission that Herticad was the only drug State hospitals had to treat early-stage breast cancer patients and it was not suitable for them.
“In fact, it is a good drug to treat patients with second and third stages of the breast cancer,” he informed the Commission.
He said that Trastuzumab sold under different brand names including Herticad and supplements using with chemotherapy increased the chance of recovery by around 5%.
“Herticad is a good drug for treating patients with advanced cancer symptoms and a number of oncologists have written to the Health Ministry about the danger of using this drug for early stage breast cancer patients,” he said.
Dr Gunasekara also said that the responses received from the Ministry of Health were not positive about using this drug for the early stage breast cancer patients.
“Four oncologists had to go through a disciplinary inquiry due to their objections of using Herticad for these cancer patients and the inquirer wasn’t even a technical person,” he said.
Commenting on the sad situation going through by women who depend on government hospitals, Commissioner Sarojini Kusala Weerawardena said that there was no supplementary medicine to move with chemotherapy to treat early-stage breast cancer patients and this was a pathetic situation.
Earlier it was revealed that Herticad had been issued by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation and not by the Russian Medicines Regulatory Authority.
Today a journal article which was produced by Kolitha Dharmawadena PC, who appears for the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), clearly stated that Herticad had been used for clinical purposes in Russia only on March 2016 but NMRA had registered the drug in Sri Lanka on February 2016.
Dharmawardena responded by saying that NMRA only registered the drugs and the decision to import them or not was decided by a tender committee, which includes oncologists.
The Chairman of the PCoI retired Supreme Court Judge, Upaly Abeyrathne interjected and asked:
"Is the NMRA like a Billing Clerk from Maradana who just records everything that is brought before it?"
Dr Gunasekera said that oncologist on the tender committee, Prasad Abeysinghe objected to Herticad stating that by allowing this drug, NMRA had failed to follow guidelines set by WHO and European Medicines Regulatory Authority.
“He has stated that 'this product is not suitable to be used for adjunct use (During early stages of cancer). The NMRA has failed to go follow guidelines set by the WHO and European Medicines Regulatory Authority on extrapolating of efficacy and safety of this product as an early breast cancer treatment,” Dr Gunasekera said. (Yoshitha Perera)