Cost of cancer drugs a major challenge: Motsoaledi

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Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi says he hopes government can convince pharmaceutical companies to reduce the price of cancer drugs as happened with HIV.

He was speaking ahead of World Cancer Day on Sunday.

The cost of oncology treatment remains a major challenge for the majority of cancer patients in South Africa.

Minister Motsoaledi says: “There is this new drug for breast cancer called herceptin, it costs R24 000 per dose and the course of treatment is 17 doses. Basically you are asking a woman with breast cancer to pay R24 000 17 times and that’s impossible for most women.”

“For colorectal cancer its R910 000 just to go through a course of treatment.”

The Cancer Association of South Africa says the problem is compounded by ill functioning equipment and insufficient specialists in the country.

The Association’s Lorraine Govender says: “We often hear in the media of malfunctioning equipment, radiotherapy machines not working, mammogram machines not working. We hear of this everyday.”

“Also we know that the cost of oncology drugs in our country is huge and although there’s so many new treatment biologics that are in place, we don’t have access to them because of the cost of it. So oncology drugs is a huge problem and the high cost of it,” adds Govender.