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This drug is often the last chance for cancer patients. Why is it still not refunded?

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Is PLN 60,000 for just one dose of the drug a lot? It is a drug that is often the last chance for women fighting breast cancer. Poland is one of the very few countries in Europe where it is not reimbursed, although patients and doctors have been calling for it for a long time.

Stanisława Sus has been fighting breast cancer for three years. He has metastases in the lymph nodes above the collarbone and in the armpit, in the lungs and in the brain. Treatment so far has not helped. The last resort is a drug: trastuzumab derukstecan. The cost of one dose is PLN 60,000. – The dose of this drug is very expensive. We even considered buying it commercially – says Stanisława. She gave up because she would have to take subsequent doses – 60,000 each – every three weeks. It would cost a fortune. Nadia Idaszewska from Poznań also had to give up effective treatment. In her case, one dose is over PLN 30,000. – This is money that I am not able to earn, even if I don’t know what a great profession she had. And I am not able to allocate PLN 34,000 for the next dose every three weeks – admits Nadia.

At the beginning of the year, the Polish Oncological Society published a list of ten cancer drugs that should be reimbursed immediately. Trastuzumab derukstecan opens the list. It is a drug whose exceptional effectiveness has been confirmed by clinical trials. They reimburse it in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania, Bulgaria and in Western countries. Not in Poland.

A new waiting room in Warsaw, a bit of normality in Wrocław. Little patients celebrated Children’s DayMarta Balukiewicz/Fakty po Poludnie TVN24

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The last chance of the sick

– Each of us remembers, at least from this year, patients whose lack of access to this drug caused them to die, because there was no other form of treatment for this type of cancer – says Professor Piotr Wysocki, head of the Clinical Department of Oncology at the University Hospital in Cracow.

There is no refund in Poland, because the Ministry of Health still cannot reach an agreement with the pharmaceutical company. – In fact, it is mainly about the price, and I know that human life is the highest value in Poland. True? I don’t feel it, admits Stanisława Sus. Negotiating the price of a drug is a normal thing. The problem is that the health department gave patients false hope, declaring in the spring that the refund would be in a moment. Now, in patients fighting for their lives, hope was raised by the election of the new Minister of Health. – We hope that something will be done, that the Minister of Health, who is a young woman who thinks that this matter does not concern her, will simply be moved. I thought so too. I never thought it would happen to me, unfortunately it did.

The editors of “Fakty” TVN wanted to ask Katarzyna Sójka when the drug would finally be reimbursed, because it was not on the new September reimbursement list. Still no answers.

Main photo source: Marek Nowicki

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