Nigeria: N4.3 Million Drug Out to Extend Lives of Cancerous Young Women

About 70 per cent of at least 40 women who die daily from breast cancer in Nigeria can now extend their lives by 42 months, with a monthly dose of a drug worth N4.32 million.

Findings of an international clinical trial, which will be published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that younger women suffering from advanced breast cancer have experienced significantly improved survival rates when treated with a drug that targets cancer cells.

Named ribociclib and manufactured by Novartis under the Kisqali brand, which is taken in pill form, costs over $12,000 or N4.32 million monthly, according to the prescription pricing website GoodRx.

The researchers noted: "The study was conducted among 672 women under 59 who received ribociclib, in combination with a common hormone therapy.

"70 percent of the women who took the combination therapy were alive after 42 months, compared to 46 per cent for those who were treated with only the hormone therapy and a placebo. This corresponded to a 29 per cent lower risk of death in patients receiving the combination therapy."

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer yearly, while about 80,000 die from the disease, averaging 240 Nigerians daily or 10 Nigerians every hour, making Nigeria's cancer death ratio of four in five one of the worst globally.

The data also shows that cervical cancer, which is virtually 100 per cent preventable, kills one Nigerian woman every hour, breast cancer kills 40 Nigerians daily, while prostate cancer kills 26 Nigerian men daily. These common cancers alone kill 90 Nigerians daily.

Breast cancer causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women globally. In 2019, up to 627,000 women have died from breast cancer worldwide, translating to 15 per cent of all cancer deaths among women, according to WHO.

Meanwhile, the results of a current study were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago on Saturday and would be published today, June 4, 2019, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Sara Hurvitz, who directs the Breast Cancer Clinical Research Programme at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre, United States, said the study is the first to show significant benefits in survival for premenopausal women with metastatic hormone-receptor positive breast cancer.

Hurvitz in a statement, said: "This trial was unique because it looks at younger women who haven't gone through menopause. This is an important group to study since advanced breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women 20 to 59, and the vast majority of breast cancer is hormone-receptor positive."

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