Swiss multinational Roche Pharma has launched PHESGO, a two-in-one injection that combines the company's blockbuster cancer medicines Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Herceptin (trastuzumab), in India.

The two medicines prescribed together is a standard treatment regimen approved in over 100 countries for both early and metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer. The cost of PHESGO will be at least 20% lower than the cost of administering the medicines separately. It will also provide convenience and improve the quality of life of patients suffering from breast cancer by significantly reducing the in-clinic time for them, V Simpson Emmanuel, CEO and managing director at Roche Pharma India, says. "You will get PHESGO at nearly the price of Perjeta," a company spokesperson added.

"PHESGO is a path breaking drug that will provide convenience and improve quality of life of patients suffering from breast cancer by significantly reducing the in-clinic time for them. Patients and their caregivers can now look forward to spending less time at the hospital and more time doing what they like most. It will also enhance the efficiency of healthcare systems since it requires less preparation and administration time. Faster administration frees up time for both patients and healthcare professionals and provides cost saving benefits to healthcare systems. PHESGO is one more example of Roche's commitment to our purpose of 'Doing now what patients need next' and pioneering efforts in the breast cancer treatment space," Emmanuel says.

PHESGO is the first ever fixed dose formulation in oncology to combine two monoclonal antibodies pertuzumab and trastuzumab with hyaluronidase, administered by subcutaneous (under the skin) injection in combination with intravenous chemotherapy, for the treatment of early and metastatic HER2-positive breast cancer.

While trastuzumab (Herceptin) is off-patent and has several generic (biosimilar) products to compete with, pertuzumab (Perjeta) is still a patented product globally. The maximum retail price of PHESGO's maintenance dose in India is ₹2.8 lakh. However, Roche says the company has several patient assistance schemes under its Blue Tree Patient Assistance Program to make the medicine more accessible. "We enable access to standard of care treatment for patients in India by significantly driving affordability for Roche innovations. Faster administration through PHESGO means better patient experience and cost saving benefits to healthcare systems," he added.

The recent decision of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDAI) to widen the insurance coverage to include various modern treatment methods, including immunotherapy - monoclonal antibodies given as an injection – will also drive affordability among the insured patients.

PHESGO was first approved by the USFDA in June 2020 during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in December 2020, and has been recognised in the NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network) treatment guidelines. In India, PHESGO was approved by the Drugs Controller (DCGI) in October 2021 and the import license was granted in January 2022.

The company said that globally over 17,000 breast cancer patients have benefitted from PHESGO as on December 2021.

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