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NHSO now covers more medicines for breast cancer, hepatitis C

BREAST CANCER and Hepatitis C patients will receive better coverage under the universal health scheme after the board of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) allowed four more expensive drugs.

At yesterday's meeting, the NHSO board approved the use of Trastuzumab, Peginterferon, Nilotinib and Dasatinib for |patients seeking free treatment under the national scheme.

The universal healthcare scheme covers about 49 million people all around the country.

Trastuzumab is used for treating patients in the early stage of breast cancer. When prescribed with Palitaxel, it proves effective in extending patients' lives.

"While the cost jumps by about one-third, patients' lives can be extended from nine years to 14 |years," NHSO secretary-general Winai Sawasdivorn said yesterday, citing findings from the Health Intervention and Technology Assessment Programme (HITAP).

He expects Trastuzumab prescribed through the universal health scheme to benefit 175 breast-cancer patients next year.

Peginterferon works for HIV-positive people who have hepatitis C, and those having Genotype 1 or 6 of hepatitis C.

HITAP has found that when compared with palliative care, the prescription of this medicine will save medical costs in the long run.

Nilotinib and Dasatinib, meanwhile, are used for treating chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Nilotinib is a second-line medicine for patients who are not compatible with Imanitib, while Dasatinib is the third-line medicine.

The universal healthcare scheme currently helps about 1,400 people with chronic myeloid leukaemia. About 500 of them are resistant to Imanitib, while about 15 are resistant to both Imanitib and Nilotinib.

"These four additional medicines for the universal healthcare scheme are necessary medicines," Winai said.

The NHSO board's move to include the medicines in the scheme was also based on the fact they were recently put on the national medicine list.

The universal health scheme allows free medical treatment for all illnesses from the common cold to cancer and chronic kidney failure. But some expensive medicines are not covered by the scheme.




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