Novartis programme benefits thousands of Vietnamese cancer patients

January 16, 2020 | 08:53
The Vietnam Medical Association in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MoH), Vietnam Social Insurance, and Novartis Vietnam Co., Ltd. organised on January 14 a conference to review the programme supporting cancer medicines, and discuss further steps after the programme ends.
novartis programme benefits thousands of vietnamese cancer patients

GIPAP (Glivec International Patient Assistance Program) is a programme to support patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST) having health insurance for less than 36 months to have Glivec completely free of charge. This programme has been implemented globally by Novartis since 2002 to support patients in low and middle-income countries (80 countries) through the Max Foundation.

In Vietnam, the programme has been implemented from 2005 to 2019, co-ordinated by Max Foundation and supported 100 per cent of the cost of Glivec drug treatment by Novartis. It is implemented in seven hospitals nationwide, including K Hospital, National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City Hematology and Blood Transfusion Hospital, Cho Ray Hospital, and Hue Central Hospital.

VPAP (Vietnam Patient Assistance Program) is a programme to support patients with CML and GIST having health insurance continuously for 36 months to have Glivec or Tasigna completely free of charge. Patients are supported 100 per cent of treatment costs, of which the Health Insurance Fund pays 40 per cent of medicine costs and Novartis supports 60 per cent of the cost of Glivec and Tasigna.

novartis programme benefits thousands of vietnamese cancer patients

As a beneficiary hospital of the GIPAP/VPAP programme, Pham Nhu Hiep, director of Hue Central Hospital, told VIR, “This is a very important and meaningful programme, helping patients return to normal life, have a better mentality, and reduce treatment costs, especially for poor patients.”

Hue Central Hospital is one of the most famous in Vietnam which is home to good and well-trained doctors and advanced technologies. In 2019, the hospital saw an increase of 165,000 in the number of in-patients.

At the conference, the MoH, Vietnam Social Insurance, Novartis, and other stakeholders together discussed the solutions that best suit the current policy, the patient's access to treatment without affecting the state budget.

Patients with CML and GIST are increasing in Vietnam and new solutions are significant for each patient.

“Our patients were sad to learn that the programme will end. To have sustainable treatment for such cancer patients, Novartis should further reduce price, while the percentage of health insurance covering the supporting price should benefit patients,” Hiep noted.

The first phase of the programme was implemented in Vietnam in 2010-2014 (according to Decision No.5128/QD-BYT dated December 25, 2009 of the MoH), the second phase ran from 2015 to 2019 (according to Decision No.5404/QD-BYT dated December 27, 2014 of the MoH), and is currently being extended until February 29, 2020 (according to Decision No.6105/QD-BYT dated December 31, 2019 of the MoH).

The GIPAP (nearly 15 years) and the VPAP (more than 10 years) have helped nearly 100 per cent of patients with severe illness of CML and GIST to be examined and treated, prolong their life, and reduce the pressures of treatment fee. Nearly 8,000 patients with CML and GIST have been supported through the programme with the number increasing every year (834 patients in 2010, 2,214 patients in 2014, and 4,435 patients in 2018). This is one of the first medicine support programmes implemented in Vietnam and by far the medicine support programme which has the largest number of patients supported.

Through the programme, hospitals have access to a new treatment method, apply advanced scientific achievements, have the opportunity to compare the effectiveness of treatment and participate in scientific research reports around the world. The programme also demonstrates the social security of health insurance. Patients increasingly trust the policies of the MoH, Social Insurance, and health agencies.

As a global healthcare group based in Switzerland, Novartis inherits more than 250 years of history from its predecessors Ciba, Geigy, and Sandoz which merged in 1996. Today, Novartis is a leading pharmaceutical company in the world, using advanced science and technology to invent breakthrough treatments for disease treatment and healthcare.

In Vietnam, Novartis has been present since the 1950s through the presence of Sandoz, Ciba-Geigy, and other partners. In 2008, Novartis Pharma Services AG Representative Office was established, and recently, Novartis Vietnam Co., Ltd. in February 2019. Currently, Novartis Vietnam is one of the leading companies in invented drugs in many areas of treament, such as immunology and dermatology, cardiology, respiratory, pain relief and neurology, ophthalmology, as well as high-quality generic and biological medicine.

Through its investment and co-operation activities in Vietnam, Novartis has become a trusted partner with the government, state agencies from central to local levels and partners in various fields, including clinical trials, science and technology transfer, strengthening primary healthcare, and public-private partnerships.

By Bich Thuy

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