By Yoshitha Perera
Despite complaints made by a large number of oncologists about the complications a new cancer drug called ‘Herticad’ could trigger, the doctors had to use it on patients because the drug had been approved by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), it was revealed at the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) to investigate corruption of the current administration yesterday.
During the testimony former Head of Maharagama Apeksha Hospital Dr. Wilfred Kumarasiri informed the Commission that a large number of oncologists lodged verbal complaints about the cancer drug Herticad and they believed that since this is a new drug there might be complications.
Dr. Kumarasiri who is currently serving as the SPC Managing Director informed the Commission that former Director General of Health Services Palitha Maheepala convened a meeting with Oncologists and told them the drug had been approved by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) and advised to use the drug.
Earlier, President of Sri Lanka College of Oncologists (SLCO) Dr. Dehan Gunasekara informed the Commission that government hospitals had lack of proper supplementary medicines that are used with chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer patients and the current drug, ‘Herticad’, which was used to treat early stage breast cancer patients, was not suitable for treating them.
“Herticad is a good drug for treating patients with advanced cancer symptoms and a number of oncologists had written to the Health Ministry about the dangers of using the drug for early stage breast cancer patients,” he said.
He said that ‘Trastuzumab’ sold under different brand names including Herticad and supplements used with chemotherapy increased the chance of recovery by around 5%.