GEORGE TOWN: Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital and Roche Malaysia today launched the Mount Miriam-Roche Cares Programme aimed at reducing the financial burden of HER2-positive breast cancer patients from the low-income group.

Under this programme, Roche, a global pioneer in combining the strengths of pharmaceuticals and diagnostics under one roof, would supply 180 vials of targeted therapy, while Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital, one of the leading cancer hospitals in Penang, had pledged RM1 million from its Needy Cancer Patient Fund to help the patients.

Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital CEO Joan Lim-Choong said under this programme, eligible HER2-positive breast cancer patients would be able to undergo the targeted therapy at a subsidised rate of only RM2,100 for a cycle instead of the normal rate of RM8,900.

“These patients will gain a substantial savings of up to 75% of a standard treatment that usually requires up to 18 cycles. The whole treatment for 18 cycles normally cost about RM150,000 to RM180,000, but under this programme, the patient will only have to pay a little over RM30,000 for 18 cycles,“ she told a press conference after the launch of the programme by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, here today.

The 12-month programme is open to 20 new HER2-positive breast cancer patients on a first-come-first-serve basis from March 1, 2019, to Feb 29, 2020. Those who are interested can apply from Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital’s Medical Social Welfare Department or contact at 04-8923866.

Meanwhile, Chow in his speech congratulated both organisations for embarking on this unique corporate responsibility programme that benefits needy cancer patients.

He said the initiative was lauded as Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2011 showed that female breast cancer accounted for 32.1% of all cancers suffered by women in Malaysia, with Penang recorded the third highest incidence of new cases.

“I welcome private financial partnerships such as this initiative by Mount Miriam and Roche Malaysia which will enable the Penang state government to effectively allocate our resources to meet the healthcare needs of the people.

“This will also ease the congestion at our public hospitals as those who are eligible can now apply for funds through this programme,“ he said.

A HER2-positive breast cancer patient has abnormal human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) genes. Excessive amounts of the genes and the protein receptors it produces encourages rapid growth of cancer cells, making HER2-positive breast cancer to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. — Bernama