KOCHI: In his budget speech, Finance Minister T M Thomas Isaac announced the government’s plans to slash cancer drug prices in the state.
He also announced the construction of an oncology park, with the aid of Kerala Infrastructure Investments Funds Board (KIIFB), in the 6.4 acres of land near Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals (KSDP) Ltd’s complex at Kalavoor in Alappuzha.
The work will begin in 2020-21.
“Production of essential medicines for post-organ transplantation surgeries will commence by then.
The average daily expenditure of five essential medicines that are usually used for this comes to `250, whereas KSDP is going to make these available for just `28.
Similarly, the cost of medicines for cancer can be reduced.
The responsibility for managing oncology park rests with KSDP,” he said.
Medical experts have welcomed these decisions as hugely beneficial to the thousands of cancer patients in the state.
“Most of the medicines produced by private companies in India are very costly, such as Palbociclib tablets for breast cancer, which are sold at around `85,000.
If the government can make them available at cheap rates, it will certainly be a boon for patients.
Kerala has identified a lot more cancer cases compared to other states because our medical system is robust and developed, and we diagnose the cases promptly,” said Dr Nasser Yusuf, cardiothoracic surgeon.
Dr Mony Kuriakose, director of Cochin Cancer Research Centre (CCRC), also welcomed the government initiative.
However, Dr Sanil Kumar, member of the Justice Krishna Iyer Movement, said there was no mention of the development of CCRC.
“Though manufacturing medicines for cancer patients is welcomed, there is no mention regarding completion of the works at CCRC.
More innovative research techniques should be encouraged to prevent further rise in number of cancer cases,” said Dr Sanil.