Experts call out the need for affordable breast cancer treatment during the launch of trastuzumab biosimilar in the Philippines

breast cancer treatment

In response to the prevailing threat of breast cancer in the Philippines, Pfizer has introduced a trastuzumab biosimilar to enable more Filipinos to have access to a more affordable treatment for HER2 positive breast cancer.

Announced during a recently held Oncology Summit organized by Pfizer and held at Grand Hyatt Manila, Taguig Philippines that was attended by leading healthcare practitioners and Oncology experts, Pfizer’s biosimilar Trastuzumab received the approval of the PhilippinesFood and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 2022 to bring this innovative treatment option to the Filipino patients. Trastuzumab refers to a monoclonal antibody that is used to treat specifictypes of HER2 positive breast cancers and stomach cancers.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the Philippines, especially among women. It contributes a significant burden of disease for Philippine health care. In the Philippines, cancer of the Philippines’Institute of Human Genetics, National Institute of Health, 189 in every100,000 Filipinos are diagnosed with cancer and four Filipinos die every hour or 96 cancer patients every day. One factor that greatly affects patient survival is the high cost of cancer treatment. 1

Biosimilars play an important role in the treatment of cancer, with the ability to both help increase patient access to essential medicines and provide value to the healthcare system bydriving market competition that can lower the cost of care. With more than a decade of global inmarket experience, a portfolio of nine approved biosimilar products across different diseases in the U.S. and the broadest biosimilar portfolio for oncology supportive care, Pfizer is proud to be a global leader in biosimilars and at the forefront of this vital healthcare segment.

Dr. Waleed Al Morsi Mohamed El Baramawy, Senior Director, Oncology Medical Affairs, Pfizer Emerging Markets said, ”The entry of Pfizer's biosimilar medicines in the Philippine market is a very positive development. Our biosimilar products have received regulatory approval based on the overall assessment of similarity to an existing biologic medicine. Pfizer uses robust protocols to ensure the same high-quality standards are maintained in its biosimilars as its biologics throughout every stage of the manufacturing process.”

Dr. Maximino Bello III, Head of Oncology at De Los Santos Medical Center and Associate Professor of Medicine, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine-WHQM said “the financial component of breast cancer in the Philippines is very challenging and cancer can be a significant economic burden for the Filipinos leading to financial difficulties to the families.” He said Pfizer’s biosimilar brand is significantly lower in price than the equivalent reference medication in the market. With the entry of this molecule developed by Pfizer, patients and their HCPs would have comparable treatment options that will prove to be beneficial in their treatment journey.

Speakers during the occasion were leading clinical trialists (Dr. Rubi K. Li, Medical Oncologist and the lead of the St. Luke’s Medical Center Human Cancer Biobank Project and Member of the Training Committee Division of SLMC Medical Oncology and Dr. Priscilla Caguioa, Medical Oncologist at University of Santo Tomas and St. Luke’s Medical Center) who collectively acknowledged that the introduction of a third trastuzumab biosimilar by Pfizer is a welcome development to Filipinos so that patients can avail of a more cost-effective high-quality drug for the treatment of breast cancer. The distinguished speakers were hopeful that with the launch of the new biosimilar, the treatment of breast cancer can become more affordable. Receiving a trastuzumab-based therapy even in earlier stages of breast cancer gives the HER2 positive breast cancer patient a significant advantage compared to those not receiving trastuzumab based therapies.

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