Roche’s lung cancer treatment gets extended reimbursement

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Roche Korea said Tuesday that Alecensa, its target immunotherapy for lung cancer, has received extended insurance coverage as a first-line treatment for anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive non-small cell lung cancer.

The drug will receive insurance coverage from the start of this month.

In April, Alecensa received approval as a first-line treatment, and with the extended reimbursement, the drug can now receive insurance benefits as a first- and second-line treatment for ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Alecensa is currently the only ALK inhibitor recommend as a category 1 in the first-line treatment of ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines.

The additional insurance benefits come after the company unveiled ALEX, its global phase 3 clinical trials. The trial showed that the treatment has a progression-free survival (PFS) of 34.8 months, showing excellent PFS improvement.

According to a follow-up study of ALEX clinical trial, Alecensa also showed a median PFS of 27.7 months for patients with central nervous system (CNS) metastasis at 20-month improvement compared to the control group.

Such improved PFS improvement and the effect on the CNS of Alecensa also continued in three-phased ALESIA trials conducted in Asian patients with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer, including Koreans.

“We are delighted that patients with ALK non-small cell lung cancer in Korea will be able to receive Alecensa, which significantly improves survival without disease progression, as a first-line treatment through the extended reimbursement,” Roche Korea CEO Nic Horridge said.

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The U Pharmaceutical, where employees are young enough to have fun, is a playful company, encouraging workers to “treat work as play.”

Such a spirit might go against the “solemn” nature of the medical community, but the company has been successfully performing since its foundation in 2013. Its annual revenue spiked to 25 billion won ($22.5 million) in 2017 from 6 billion won in 2014. The number of employees also surged to 120 from 25 during the same period.

The U has five medicines that rank first in sales in dermatology – Allerion Tab., Hitconazole Tab., Desoxyone Gel, Pureryl Nail Lacquer, and Doxiendi Tab.

The U Band, a rock band of employees at The U Pharmaceutical, performs at the Medical Joint Concert in Hongdae area in Seoul, Saturday.

Last weekend, Korea Biomedical Review went to the Medical Joint Concert organized by The U Pharmaceutical, which seeks success through young mindset and active communication with physicians.

The seventh event this time was held in Hongdae area on Saturday. Five bands comprised of doctors – La Vie en Rose A, La Vie en Rose B, DDS, UNIS, and Hippopience Forever – and The U Band of employees at the drug company went up on the stage.

Most of the audience were families and friends of the participating band members, creating heat as intense as in a popular rock concert.

Korea Pediatric Society director Lee Hye-kyung, lead vocal of Hippopience Forever, sings during the Medical Joint Concert in Seoul, Saturday.

Members of the participating bands are mostly clinic owners. KBR asked why they break their busy time to practice and perform.

“Because we like it so much,” replied Korea Pediatric Society director Lee Hye-kyung, who was ready to perform as the lead vocal of Hippopience Forever.

Hippopience Forever is a school band at Korea University’s College of Medicine. The band has performed for the Medical Joint Concert several times.

On the stage, the band played covers of Count Basic’s “On the Move,” Boohwal’s “The Story of You and the Rain,” and Eagles’ “Desperado.” Lee, the vocal of the group, said she has been with the band for 45 years since she entered Korea University in 1978.

“It’s hard for us to get together like this because the members have to see patients. Our members come from various regions such as Incheon and Ilsan. Although they complain that it’s hard to get together, they perform because they like it,” Lee said.

She was confident about team spirit, despite the lack of practice. “I think we are ready to go. I feel great if our harmony gets right although we have been busy,” she added.

UNIS, a band of doctors working in the Gangseo area in Seoul, performs during the Medical Joint Concert in Seoul, Saturday.

UNIS, a band of doctors working in the Gangseo area in Seoul, has participated in the Medical Joint Concert from the first year. The band played Gary Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways,” Ozzy Osbourne’s “Bark at the Moon,” and YB Band’s “Flaming Sunset.”

Kim Ki-chan, vocal and second guitar of the band, who is leading the physicians’ group in Gangseo-gu at a dermatology clinic, said music helps him relieve stress from busy work schedules.

“After I took office as president of the doctors’ group, it became more difficult to carve out time to practice. But the opportunity to join the concert pushes us to practice and stimulates our lives. Everyone loves music,” Kim said.

While doctors were relatively masterful in their play due to their long-time involvement with school bands, members of The U Band were quite new.

The U Pharmaceutical CEO Kim Min-koo said he know many doctors liked music when he worked as a salesman. Kim learned how to play drums and created a band. He thought music could enhance communication between physicians and employees of the pharmaceutical company.

“It is good to see doctors and our workers see in person and have fun together at the concert. If doctors get happier, hospitals will become more vitalized,” Kim added.

<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>

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