Cancer patients breathe sigh of relief hinh anh 1A medical worker takes care of patients at K Hospital, the central specialised hospital for cancer patients, in Hanoi. Different drugs for cancer patients ran out, putting them under pressure. (Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - A nine month shortage of Glivec cancer medicine produced by the Novartis Pharma Service – AG Company (Switzerland) has eased for hundreds of patients following a Government move to allow hospitals to stock the pharmaceutical product using old import dossiers.

The drugs are used by patients suffering from cancer, including chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastro-intestinal stromal tumours.

However, according to hospitals, the stock of donated Glivec and Tasigna ran out in December, putting cancer patients under pressure.

The shortage was due to Resolution No. 54 issued in May last year which said that permits for the importation of medicines under humanitarian aid programmes must be completed in a special manner. 

Novartis recently said in a petition to the ministry that it faced many obstacles preparing and completing the dossiers called for in Resolution No. 54. This brought the importation of Glivec to Vietnam to a halt.

This included a Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CPP), Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), ASEAN Common Technical Dossier (ACTD), proposed labels and actual circulation labels in the host countries.

Phu Chi Dung, director of HCM City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, said a resolution passed on January 12 approved the use of the drug at four hospitals - the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Cho Ray Hosptial, HCM City Oncology Hospital and HCM City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion.

“The resolution has lifted up cancer treatment at hospitals. We are completing procedures to stock Glivec and expect to receive it in one week,” said Dung.

A programme to assist patients by distributing two types of cancer medicines, Glivec 100mg and Tasigna 200mg, was implemented by Novartis in 2015 at seven medical facilities - the National Cancer Hospital, Bach Mai Hospital, Hue Central Hospital, the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion, Cho Ray Hospital, HCM City Oncology Hospital and HCM City Hospital of Haematology and Blood Transfusion.

Cancer patients who participate in social insurance for more than 36 months can take part in a Patient Assistance Programme in which the social insurance fund pays 40 percent of the Glivec or Tasigna costs and the rest is sponsored by Novartis. Those who participate for less than 36 months, will have the cost of the drugs fully funded by the company.

The lowest dose of Glivec prescribed by doctors is two tablets a day, while the highest dose is eight tablets a day. The price of commercial Glivec in HCM City is 442,000 VND (19.4 USD) per tablet. If a patient is resistant to or intolerant of Glivec, a doctor may provide a treatment with two tablets of Tasigna a day. The price of commercial Tasigna in HCM City is 707,000 VND (31 USD) per a tablet.-VNA