Approved in the US in March 2007 and Europe nine months later, this rare drug is indicated for the treatment of patients who do not respond to trastuzumab (sold under the trade name Herceptin), a blockbuster drug from the stable of Swiss drug major Hoffman-La Roche.
Herceptin is indicated for the treat of a particularly aggressive form of tumour (HER2-positive), which accounts for 20-30 per cent of all breast cancers.
According to sources in GSK, as many as one-fourth of all HER2 positive breast cancer patients are treated with trastuzumab. Of these, around 20-30 per cent develop resistance to the drug. To treat such cases, Tykerb will be used.
According to various estimates, the market for cancer drugs in India is valued about Rs 900 crore and is expected to grow bigger than Rs 3,000 crore in the next five years. India has a cancer population of more than 3.5 million and a good share of this includes cervical and breast cancer. According to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data, one in 22 women in India are prone to breast cancer. The global oncology market is currently valued over $48 billion.
"We will make Tykerb available to Indian patients at a discount of 25 per cent as compared with the price of the drug overseas," said Hasit B Joshipura, VP (South Asia) and MD, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. "It is too early to estimate the revenues as currently the drug is approved for a narrow indication and progress will also be a function of the success of the clinical trials currently underway for expanded indications," he added.
In the US, Tykerb costs as much as $2,900 (over Rs 1,20,000) per month since the usual dosage is once a day for 21 days in a row for a cycle. The drug is expected to post global sales of over $1 billion annually by 2012.
"Roche imports Herceptin to India depending on patient requirements. Very often, we provides it at a discounted price and, hence, it is difficult to put an exact price tag for the drug in India," Girish Telang, managing director, Roche India, said.