Samsung Bioepis’s trastuzumab biosimilar has been prequalified by WHO.
The medication can now be procured by the United Nations agencies and for national tenders.
Trastuzumab is a monoclonal antibody that has been shown to have high efficacy in treating early-stage breast cancer. The drug was enlisted in the WHO Essential Medicines List in 2015 as essential medication for about 20% of breast cancers.
However, the high cost of trastuzumab precluded the drug from reaching many women and healthcare centers in most countries. The global average cost of the drug from the originator companies is $20 000, while the biosimilar version is 65% cheaper, reveals WHO.
“The availability of biosimilars has decreased prices, making even innovative treatments more affordable and hopefully available to more people,” says Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General for Medicines and Health Products.
WHO prequalification assures quality in the health products purchased by the countries.
According to WHO, in 2018, 2.1 million women had contracted breast cancer and 630 000 of them succumbed to the disease owing to late diagnosis and or lack of access towards affordable treatment.