Access is precisely one of the biggest challenges facing the innovative industry in Spain. That’s why the goals laboratories set are to expedite safe drug approvals, so they reach their final recipients in a timely manner. Although the average time for inclusion of the drug in the Spanish health system is 21 months, with Brukinsa’s treatment of adult patients with certain types of leukemia this time has been shortened to nine months. This is an essential time when dealing with diseases such as cancer.
The key to this omission was innovation, good data obtained from trials, the task of getting drugs to patients as quickly as possible, collaboration with other laboratories, but above all, the search for inhibitors. In this case, it’s about BTK, a protein that helps some lymphoma cells (B cells) grow and survive. However, in the words of Beigene Medical Director Christina Bass, BTK is always active and should be prevented in a way that is sustainable over time and should also be selective.
In what cases Brukinsa is applied
First of all, it must be said that it is not a chemical treatment, so the toxicity is much lower and it has far fewer side effects. This drug works by blocking an inhibitor of Bruton tyrosine kinase, a protein in the body that helps cancer cells grow and survive.
Secondly, it is applicable to adult patients because the types of cancers that have been shown to be effective are: Waldstrom’s macroglobulinemia, marginal zone lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, the prevalence of which is more common in people of advanced age.
For Dr. Patricia Baltasar, hematologist at La Paz University Hospital, chronic lymphocytic leukemia is an example of a disease that is treated in a multidisciplinary way, bringing together cardiologists, geriatricians, hospital pharmacologists and more. The prevalence of this type of cancer is 48 cases per 100,000 population and occurs in patients over 70 years of age who usually do not die of the disease but because of their advanced age. For this reason, when taking treatment in these cases, which would not normally be forthcoming, it was imperative that it not be aggressive and for this reason, having a second generation treatment and chemotherapy off the shelf in these cases was a major advance.
Something similar to what Antonio Salar Silvestre, hematologist at the Virgen de la Arixaca Hospital in Murcia and representative of the Spanish Group of Lymphoma and Autologous Bone Marrow Transplantation, experiences every day, who confirms that marginal zone lymphoma has a prevalence of this 7% and 8% , is difficult to diagnose – in patients between the ages of 60 and 65 years – because it was necessary to reach a treatment that was not toxic to patients. The effort to diagnose these lymphomas has been gigantic and now, in addition, access to a non-toxic treatment is crucial to stopping the cancer from progressing. That is, although marginal zone lymphoma usually has a good prognosis, once a patient relapses or does not respond to treatment, the options are reduced.
Once again, Christina Bass is brimming with the fact that innovative medicines have an impact on patients’ lives. This is why Beigene is committed to research, focusing on the 80% of cancers with the highest incidence. For this reason, by the end of 2023, there will be 30 clinical trials of the company in various stages of development distributed throughout the national territory, involving more than 400 patients and 80 hospitals.