The biotechnology major will start selling ‘CANMAb’, a 25% cheaper breast cancer drug developed jointly with US-based Mylan

Biotechnology company Biocon on Saturday launched a new and cheaper drug to treat ‘metastatic’ breast cancer that aggressively spreads to other parts of the body.

The company said its product, CANMAb, the world’s first ‘biosimilar’ or remake of Swiss multinational Roche’s original drug trastuzumab, would cost about 25 per cent less than the original.

Roche sells the drug in India as Herceptin, which generated 2012 sales worth around Rs.130 crore. Globally, it was around $6.4 billion.

Biocon’s tumour-targeting product is slated to enter the market in the first week of February.

It will make breast cancer treatment more affordable and accessible to many Indian patients who test positive for the cancer-indicating HER2 (short for human epidermal growth factor), Chairman and Managing Director Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw told a news conference.

She said, “Biocon intends to make a significant difference in the treatment paradigm for HER2-positive breast cancer in India by enhancing access to more affordable treatment with CANMAb. [It] offers the same level of safety and efficacy as the reference product [Herceptin.]”

The local version costs Rs.19,500 for a 50 mg budget vial and around Rs.57,000 for 400 mg. The original rival comes in a single 400 mg offer and costs around Rs.75,000-80,000, according to company officials.

Patients need to take at least three intravenous drug cycles lasting around three months before any change in tumour can be noticed. In India, breast cancer is the No. 2 cancer striking women and roughly 1.5 lakh new cases are detected each year. At least a quarter of them or nearly 40,000 test positive for the HER2 and can benefit from CANMAb.

Biocon co-developed the new product with U.S. pharma major Mylan; their 2009 partnership covers four more products and a shared market.

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