UAE: New drug approval to bring hope to breast cancer patients

The country is among the first few to approve the innovative drug

By SM Ayaz Zakir

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Published: Sat 28 May 2022, 2:34 PM

Last updated: Tue 31 May 2022, 11:56 AM

UAE's Ministry of Health and Prevention has authorized the use of Merck Sharp and Dohme’s (MSD) Immunotherapy in a new indication that is set to bring hope to triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) patients.

This makes the UAE one of the leading countries after US to adopt the new indication.

Breast cancer accounts for 21.4 per cent of the number of new cancer cases in the UAE, according to the World Health Organization data from 2020, with TNBC constituting 15 per cent of total breast cancer cases globally.

"The approval offers a significant sense of hope for patients with this aggressive form of breast cancer as it increases the treatment options," said Prof Humaid Al Shamsi, President EOS & professor at the University of Sharjah.

"The launch of this new drug will offer a renewed sense of hope for patients with TNBC. They will now have access to this immuno-therapy across public and private clinics," said Dr Dina Hamza, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Dubai Hospital.

Prof Al Shamsi said that TNBC is aggressive cancer.

"The approved drug is taken along with chemotherapy," said Prof Al Shamsi. "The recommended dosage of the drug for TNBC is 200 mg every three weeks or 400 mg every six weeks as an intravenous infusion over 30 minutes."

"It is administered in combination with chemotherapy for neoadjuvant treatment for 24 weeks, and then as a single agent for adjuvant treatment for up to 27 weeks."

He also affirmed that the reoccurrence rate of TNBC was reduced under the drug when compared with just chemotherapy.

"The addition of the drug to treatment reduces the reoccurrence rate and risk of death," added Dr Al Shamsi.


Dr Hamza said that the drug would speed up patients' treatment plans, improve their quality of life and offer better outcomes to the UAE's TNBC patients. "The drug reduces the risk of aggressive cancer reoccurrence after surgery by more than a third."

Commenting on the approval and UAE's healthcare advancement, Prof Al Shamsi said: "We are here at an advantage in the UAE as many life-saving drugs are approved very fast where we have access to new innovations of medicines early, that will immensely contribute to the UAE's vision to be the hub for medical tourism."


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