<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A new therapy is showing positive results in the US, but children in India suffering from blood cancer may not be able to access it anytime soon, Frances Milnes, Market Access Head of multi-national pharma giant Novartis, shared this information.Introduced last month in the US, Chimeric Anitigen Receptor (CAR) T- cell therapy is a last resort for children suffering B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of blood cancer.In India, over the last 20 years, number of children affected by ALL has doubled and the number stands at an estimated 25,000 children diagnosed with ALL every year. It will be tough to bring the CAR-T therapy to India because the cost of the therapy is eye-watering.The one time therapy costs Rs 3.8 crore or US$4,75,000 and Novartis has no plans to make it accessible to India in near future.It is the first-ever FDA approved cell therapy and it shows high rates of remission. Over 80% of paediatric patients who were treated got cured. “Most children have a stem-cell transplants and are cured but it relapses in some children, and in most children with relapse the CAR-T therapy works and it is really the last chance for them,” said Milnes. Currently the therapy is available in only a few accredited hospitals in the US to patients who are insured.”We are not looking at India as a market at the moment because of affordability issues. Also it is too early to say anything. We are now moving towards introducing it in Europe first,” said Milnes.Cell therapy is a novel approach to fight tough cancers. Kymriah, first such drug developed by Novartis, earlier this year for treatment of blood cancer when other treatments fail is showing hope.It involves extracting and genetically modifying millions of patient’s T-cells to destroy malignant cancers.Milnes said that it took an immensely long time for the process of research and formulation of the therapy. “We remove cells from the patient and take them to a processing plant. After about 21 days, the cells are ready to be reintroduced in the patients. The process is to modify the cells and and scale them up to make sure there are enough cells to put back in the body, so they can go and fight the cancer,” said Milnes.”It is an exciting therapy. It is one of a kind and helps give patients another shot at life. However it is too expensive for Indians to afford and we are hoping that Indians can access it in India sooner,” said Dr Sameer Kaul, Surgical Oncologist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi.MIlnes said that the patient will only get charged by the pharma company if they have responded to the therapy by the end of the first month. “This is outcomes based contracting or pricing and you do not pay if the therapy fails to work on you,” Milnes stated.Top scientific journal Nature reported that remission in patients lasted a median six months and most patients remained in remission for up to 21 months from the time they were administered the therapy. Remission suggests lessening or disappearance of symptoms of disease. In the US, Novartis is looking at fighting new indications, like adult cancers with CAR-T now and trials are under way.INTRODUCED IN USThe Chimeric Anitigen Receptor T- cell therapy is a last resort for children suffering from blood cancer
It was introduced in the US last month
Nearly 25,000 children in India are diagnosed with the deadly disease every year

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DNA Exclusive: At Rs 3.8 crore, novel cancer therapy distant dream for Indians