INDIA – AstraZeneca Pharma India has joined hands with Roche Diagnostics India to improve access to diagnostics for breast cancer patients across the country.

In a joint release, the two companies said: “Together, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of medical innovation and making a positive impact on the future of healthcare in India.”

Through the newly forged Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), AstraZeneca and Roche Diagnostics India will focus on streamlining HER2-positive breast cancer diagnostics with newer advancements in the field.

The focal point of this MoU is to address existing diagnostic challenges, reduce turnaround times, and elevate the overall patient experience.

For his part, Dr. Anil Kukreja, Vice President of Medical Affairs and Regulatory at AstraZeneca India, said: “Our collaboration with Roche Diagnostics is a pivotal step, focusing on improving patient outcomes with an emphasis on patient-centricity.”

He confirmed that the new partnership reinforces the pivotal role of diagnostics in shaping effective treatment strategies for metastatic breast cancer patients in India.

We believe this strategic partnership contributes significantly towards creating an integrated healthcare ecosystem that strongly benefits the overall patient experience,” outlined Dr. Anil Kukreja.

Access to adequate diagnosis and treatment is paramount to change the survival and quality of life of patients with breast cancer, the most common cancer in women.

In 2020, the World Health Organization reports stated that approximately 2.2 million cases occur each year worldwide, with about 700,000 deaths annually.

An estimated 45% of new cases are diagnosed each year, and more than 55% of breast cancer-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.

He explained that one of the most vital elements to patient care is the reassessment of biomarkers, specifically HER2, guiding crucial treatment decisions.

Breast cancer takes a critical turn when transitioning to metastatic stages, accounting for 30% of post-diagnosis cases and constituting a primary cause of breast cancer-related fatalities

Approximately half of all patients with breast cancer (mBC) express low levels of HER2. These patients with HER2 low status may now be eligible for a targeted treatment, which could significantly improve their outcomes. 

Commenting on characteristics of malignant tumours, Dr. Rishubh Gupta, Managing Director of Roche Diagnostics India and Neighbouring Markets, said: “Targeting and treating HER2-low breast cancer has been a challenge to the medical and scientific community.”

Dr. Rishubh Gupta pointed out that metastatic breast cancer patients with a low level of HER2 status were previously considered to be part of the HER2-negative population and had no HER2-targeted treatment options.

The 15% to 20% of cases identified as HER2-positive present opportunities for targeted therapies, with advancements in HER2 testing continually optimizing its clinical application since the 1980s.

However, managing breast cancer in low-resource countries poses unique challenges such as unavailability of routine pathology, diagnostic exams, and standard medicines.

Breast cancer is usually diagnosed at late stages, and due to limited resources, patients may receive inadequate treatment, including supportive and palliative care.

Bearing this in mind, AstraZeneca and Roche Diagnostics India have embarked on a new initiative aimed at increasing patient access to advancements in HER2 testing standardisation and reporting.

The partnership will also facilitate the coordination of comprehensive training activities for pathologists and medical oncologists.

Under this partnership, training modules designed for oncologists will cover advances in HER-2 testing and HER-2 low interpretations.

With this partnership, we bring hope to metastatic breast cancer patients with a low level of HER2 status and lead the way in HER2 diagnostics that supports the identification of patients who may benefit from HER2-targeted therapies,” underscored Dr. Rishubh Gupta.

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