Biotechnology major Biocon Ltd will market Abraxane drug of the US-based Abraxis BioScience in India for treating breast cancer, a top company official said here Friday.
To be priced at about $400 (Rs.17,200) per 100mg vial in India, the drug will be cheaper by 60 percent than in the US where it is sold at $1,000 (Rs.43,000) per vial of same measure.
Abraxane will be the second oncotherapeutics drug Biocon will be marketing after the launch of its proprietary antibody Biomab for the treatment of head and neck cancers.
"Abraxane is the first albumin-bound taxane particle of 130 nanometres that takes advantage of albumin, a natural carrier of water-insoluble molecules found in human beings," Biocon chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw told reporters at a preview of the innovative product.
The scheduled drug is being introduced for the first time in India for treating breast cancer after the failure of combination therapy for metastatic disease or relapse of adjuvant chemotherapy within six months.
As a protein, albumin acts as the body's key transporter of nutrients and other water-soluble molecules and selectively accumulates in tumour tissues.
Abraxane was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005 and the Drug Controller General of India in 2007 on the basis of clinical trial data, which demonstrated that the drug doubled the response rate, prolonging life and improved survival rate of breast cancer patients.
"With about 100,000 cases of breast cancer detected in Indian women every year, the dreaded disease has emerged as the second largest cause of death among women in the country" Shaw said.
"Studies reveal about 45,000 Indian women die of breast cancer every year. With one in 22 cancer cases being identified as breast cancer, the disease is increasing by 8-10 percent every year."
Unlike conventional breast cancer drugs such as Taxol and Taxotere, Abraxane eliminates the need for chemical solvents and allows for higher doses of paclitaxel protein-based particles for injectable suspension without compromising safety and tolerability.
"The launch of Abraxane provides breakthrough therapeutics to cancer patients in India, which is safe, effective and affordable. Besides India, we will be marketing the drug in 10 other countries after securing regulatory approvals," Shaw said.
Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and some South Asian countries are the targeted markets.
"Though cancer rates in India are lower than those in western countries, the cases are rising due to early detection and increasing migration of rural population to cities, increasing life expectancy and changing lifestyles.
"The breast is the second most common site in women after the cervix uteri. In metros like Delhi and Mumbai, breast cancer is the most common kind of disease in women," Shaw said.