Keytruda approved in SA for bladder cancer and non-small cell lung carcinoma

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The approval of a breakthrough cancer medicine for a wider range of conditions offers renewed hope for South African patients battling this dreaded disease.

KEYTRUDA® previously used to treat metastatic melanoma and second line metastatic non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC), has been approved for the treatment of bladder cancer and first-line NSCLC by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

The regulatory approval follows the review of studies and clinical-trial data that showed the medicine was safe and effective against additional cancer types. This opens the door to many more cancer patients receiving effective treatment. The approved medicine is an immunotherapy treatment that enlists the body’s own immune system to fight cancer and can reduce the need for major treatments such as chemotherapy.

KEYTRUDA® manufactured by global pharmaceutical company MSD, was approved in 2017 to treat metastatic melanoma and advanced lung cancer. It is now approved for:
First-line treatment of advanced lung cancer
First- and second-line treatment of advanced bladder cancer

“South Africa has significant challenges around lung cancer,” said oncologist Professor Bernardo Leon Rapoport. “With another first-line treatment available for advanced lung cancer, we can look to improve survival rates, which mean a better quality of life for cancer patients and a reduced disease burden on society”.

Such breakthroughs in research, development and approvals in the immuno-oncology space give governments, health systems and physicians the opportunity to help more patients.

“Immunotherapy medicines create new options to treat cancer, which may prolong survival or turn cancer into a manageable, chronic disease,” said oncologist Dr Devan Moodley. “This approval is welcome news, and we need to continue research in this area, with the aim of expanding the cancer types we can treat”.

Dr Priya Agrawal, MD for MSD in SA and sub-Saharan Africa, said the approval was an incredible breakthrough for SA cancer patients.

Issued by Ogilvy PR

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