• ZYTIGA was first approved in the U.S in2001 in combination with prednisone or prednisolone.
• More than 330,000 patients worldwide have received treatment with it since its approval.
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board has approved the use of a prescription drug for the treatment of newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer with no previous exposure to cytotoxic chemotherapy.
The drug, ZYTIGA (abiraterone acetate), is manufactured by Janssen, one of the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson.
The local pharmacy regulator has approved the use of the once-daily medication ZYTIGA for the treatment of metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer ahead of a chemotherapy regime.
The approval is expected to help boost ongoing efforts to minimise existing barriers to cancer care access.
"The drug is only licensed for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer cases post-chemotherapy," Janssen Kenya Country Manager Marseille Onyango said.
Speaking at a Nairobi hotel on Friday, Onyango confirmed that the drug has progressively received international recognition as a broad indication treatment drug for prostate cancer.
"The local approval of the drug helps fill a critical medical need, providing local physicians with an important tool for treating men with metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer," Onyango said.
"Under the Janssen Kenya Prostate cancer program in conjunction with Axios International, a specialised healthcare access company, ZYTIGA will continue being available for all patients including NHIF members who enjoy significant cost savings,” he added.
Janssen Kenya Country Medical Affairs Manager Dr Eric Muchangi expressed optimism in the drug as it will provide much relief for prostate cancer patients and their families.
The drug works by inhibiting the enzyme complex required for the production of androgen in the testes, adrenals and the prostate tumour tissue
"Having ZYTIGA as a new therapeutic option in Kenya, before chemotherapy will provide hope for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and their families as they continue to battle the disease,” Muchangi said.
Earlier this year, NHIF Claims and Benefits Manager, Judy Otele said that with the Janssen Kenya Prostate cancer project, NHIF had successfully managed to negotiate the price reduction of ZYTIGA from Kshs 200,000 to about Kshs 100,000.
Currently, the NHIF care package entails up to 10 chemotherapy sessions, oral and injectable anti-cancer drugs, inpatient and outpatient oncology services, 20 sessions for radiotherapy, and up to two sessions for Brachytherapy for advanced cancer, per year.
Among the health facilities that offer the package include some level five and six hospitals, and selected private hospitals in urban centres.