BURLINGTON, Mass., Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Decision Resources, one of the world's leading research and advisory firms for pharmaceutical and healthcare issues, finds that oncologists in China are embracing Roche's Herceptin as the targeted therapy for treating HER2+ gastric cancer in the first-line setting. The outlook for the use of Herceptin in this patient subpopulation is promising, and oncologists expect that the proportion of HER2+ gastric cancer patients treated with Herceptin could double by 2016.
Decision Resources' new special report entitled Gastric Cancer in China: Physician and Payer Perspectives on Optimizing Market Access for Premium-Priced Treatment also finds that substantial barriers currently exist for gastric cancer patients to access Herceptin in China, primarily due to lack of reimbursement and the high out-of-pocket expenses. Roche's innovations in breaking the market access barriers through patient access programs and collaboration with private insurance companies to provide coverage for expensive targeted therapies are starting to pay off. Herceptin (trastuzumab) has been included in the Provincial Reimbursement Drug List (PRDL) of Jiangsu Province recently, and the interviewed payers also support the inclusion of Herceptin in the next update of the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL). These findings may signify a more widespread use of Herceptin in China and align with our survey finding that the use of Herceptin in HER2+ gastric cancer patients can almost double in the next three years.
A key threat to this growth will be the entry of locally manufactured non-innovator biologics, for example Cipterbin from Shanghai's CP Guojian Pharmaceuticals. The report finds that approximately 20 percent of oncologists may switch to the non-innovator version regardless of price.
"It will be important for Roche to demonstrate how Herceptin can be differentiated from non-innovator Herceptin in China," said Decision Resources Analyst Kwok-fai Ng, M.B.A. "Meanwhile, if we go down to the level of city, we can see greater loyalty towards branded medicines in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. Our primary research indicates that most gastric cancer patients in these cities are still treated with chemotherapy only, which could present a great growth opportunity for Herceptin."
The report also finds that apatinib, an innovator small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor from Jiangsu Hengru Medicine, is another emerging targeted therapy that could meet the huge unmet need of HER2-negative gastric cancer patients. Nevertheless, apatinib still has to overcome the reimbursement hurdles, and interviewed payers do not expect its inclusion in the NRDL and PRDL over the next three years.
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