A new orally administered targeted therapy for metastatic breast cancer that has spread to the brain is to be covered by the National Health Insurance (NHI) program, in an effort to substantially reduce patients’ medical costs, the NHI Administration (NHIA) said yesterday.
Lapatinib, sold as Tykerb, which costs NT$502 per tablet, will be covered by the NHI as of Monday.
Given that the recommended dosage of Tykerb for metastatic breast cancer is 1,250mg, or five tablets per day, the NHI including the drug in its coverage is expected to save each patient about NT$75,000 (US$2,500) a month, the administration said in a press release.
Chiu Chui-wen (邱垂文), a section chief at the NHIA’s Medical Review and Pharmaceutical Benefits Division, said the number of insured individuals opting for the new targeted medication is expected to be 34 in the first year and to rise to 108 in the fifth year.
The administration’s statistics show that breast cancer is the second-most common cancer among women in Taiwan.
Breast tumor cells can invade bones and other organs, particularly among those whose cancer tests positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), a protein that promotes the growth of cancer cells.
“Brain metastases are notoriously difficult to treat, but they occur in 15 to 25 percent of women with metastatic breast cancer,” Chiu said.
Chiu said while trastuzumab, sold as Herceptin — a targeted drug administered via injection that was included in the NHI program in 2002 — has been effective in treating patients with HER2-positive early stage breast cancer or those whose tumor cells have spread, it is unable to cross an intact blood-brain barrier because of its relatively large molecular size.
Tykerb, being a smaller molecule, can not only cross the barrier, but also lengthen users’ survival time by an additional 15.7 months, compared with four to six months for people who receive traditional chemotherapy, Chiu said.
BILINGUAL ASSISTANCE: The center launched a chat bot that features Chinese and English interfaces to provide foreigners with instant information about the pandemic The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that it would discuss with other nations the possibility of allowing businesspeople to visit on a case-by-case basis. Asked about loosening border restrictions, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at the daily CECC news briefing that while the center is cautious about opening the nation’s borders, it would aim to diminish obstacles for important trade interactions without risking transmission of the novel coronavirus. Several foreign representatives in Taiwan have expressed an interest in the matter and the center would conduct related negotiations with the help of the
DELUSIONAL: The male patient said he did not know that the woman had mental problems, but the court said that her being restrained in isolation should have given him pause The Taiwan High Court has ordered the Jhudong branch of the Taiwan National University Hospital and a male patient to jointly pay a former female patient’s family NT$400,000 in compensation after the man had sex with the woman, who has mental problems, while hospitalized. The 26-year-old woman has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, a symptom of which is that she obsessively seeks to have sex, her mother said. The mother filed a formal complaint and sought damages from the hospital and the male patient surnamed Chen (陳) after finding out that her daughter had sex with the man while
The Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) should not use the government’s disease-prevention policy as an excuse to block people’s access to the Taipei Railway Station’s main hall, the Taiwan International Workers’ Association said yesterday. The association held a protest at the station after what organizers said were about 400 people staged a sit-in on Saturday to demonstrate against the TRA’s proposal to ban sitting on the floor of the main hall. In accordance with the Central Epidemic Command Center’s disease-prevention measures, large gatherings have been banned in the hall since the end of February. After protesters yesterday expressed their grievances at the southern
Nematode-trapping fungi have been found to be natural killers of nematodes and their mechanisms might facilitate the development of new drugs or biological control agents, an Academia Sinica researcher said yesterday. Mostly measuring less than 1mm, nematodes are found in soil worldwide and most are not visible to the naked eye, Academia Sinica Institute of Molecular Biology assistant research fellow Hsueh Yen-ping (薛雁冰) told a news conference in Taipei. Some nematodes can cause infections in humans or damage plants, but existing pesticides, such as ivermectin, aldicarb and levamisole, can only inhibit their activity and the poisons’ efficacy are declining due to