The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) has approved the use of a prescription drug ZYTIGA, manufactured by Janssen, for the treatment of prostate cancer. The drug has been approved for the treatment of newly diagnosed metastatic prostate cancer with no previous exposure to cytotoxic chemotherapy.

PPB has approved the use of Janssen’s once-daily medication ZYTIGA (abiraterone acetate) for the treatment of metastatic hormone sensitive prostate cancer ahead of a chemotherapy regime. The prescription only non generic oncological management drug is distributed locally by Janssen Kenya.

Earlier this year, Janssen Kenya partnered with the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to provide ZYTIGA to prostate cancer patients at a subsidized rate.  This was part of a joint commitment by the two organizations to enhance access of the crucial drug for local prostate cancer patients.

To ensure a coordinated response to cancer control in Kenya, the National Cancer Control Strategy (NCCS) 2017-2022 was developed to act as a framework to guide all stakeholders supporting cancer control in Kenya. The strategy addresses the whole cancer ecosystem from prevention to survivorship and has 5 pillars namely: Prevention, Early Detection and Screening, Diagnosis, Registration and Surveillance, Treatment, Palliative Care and Survivorship, Coordination, Partnership and Financing and Monitoring, Evaluation and Research.

Cancer, is one of the major non-communicable diseases in Kenya and ranks third as a cause of death after infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that there are 40,000 new cases annually and approximately 28,000 cancer related deaths every year. More than 70% of cancer cases are diagnosed at late stage when treatment outcomes are poor and palliative care is usually the only management amenable.

Currently, the NHIF care package entails up to 10 chemotherapy sessions, oral and injectable anti-cancers drugs, inpatient and outpatient oncology services, 20 sessions for radio therapy, and up to two sessions for Brachytherapy for advanced cancer, per year. Among the health facilities that offer the package include some level five and six hospitals, and selected private hospitals in urban centres.

NHIF covers six sessions for the first line treatment for up to Ksh. 25,000 per session, four sessions for the second and third line treatment for up to Ksh. 150,000 per session and 20 sessions of radiotherapy at Ksh3,600 per session. Biopsy is covered under the surgical package. Radiology is also done during the diagnosis stage, and this include MRIs, ultrasounds, or CT scan and PET scan, also covered by NHIF.

Since its first approval in the U.S. in 2011, ZYTIGA has been approved in combination with prednisone or prednisolone, in 105 countries. ZYTIGA (abiraterone acetate) in combination with prednisone is indicated for the treatment of patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and with metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer (CSPC).