JIS News

The National Health Fund (NHF) has added five new subsidized drugs for prostate cancer treatment to its individual benefits drug list.
The drugs are Zoladex, Lucrin, Casodex and Premarin, which have the active ingredients goserelin, leuprolide, flutamide, bicalutamide and conjugated estrogen, which are proven effective in cancer treatment.
Marva Lee, Administrative Director of the Jamaica Cancer Society told JIS News that the addition of these drugs was “great news” for patients living with prostate cancer, as they were affordable and suitable. “Treating cancer can be very expensive and this impacts on the resources of the family,” she noted.
The NHF is covering 30 to 50 per cent of the cost of the new drugs. A subsidy of $29,711.99 is offered per vial of Zoladex 10.8mg depot injection; $9,904 per vial of Zoladex 3.6mg depot injection.
Further subsidies being offered include $4,768.41 for one vial of Lucrin or Lectrum 3.75mg depot injection; $355.02 per tablet is offered for Casodex 50mg tablets and $11.67 per tablet for Premarin 1.25mg tablets.
Dr. William Aiken, President of the Jamaica Urological Society, also welcomed the subsidy, which he said, would ensure the affordability of more suitable drugs for the treatment of prostate cancer.
He pointed out that, “drug therapy is the mainstay of treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer and the majority of cases seen in Jamaica are usually in the advanced stages”.
He also informed, that due to problems with affordability, treatment options have been limited to the removal of the testicles or treatment with female hormones, which can have unpleasant side effects.
Meanwhile Cecil White, Vice President of Operations at NHF, has informed that efforts were being made to increase the enrolment of men with prostate cancer in order to reduce the burden associated with the cost of treatment.
“If it is estimated that only 60 per cent of men who have prostate cancer are aware of their condition, then all men over 50 years-old need to be screened to determine if they have prostate cancer and if they do, to enrol for the benefits available under the NHF in order to reduce the burden of treating the condition,” he informed.
The week of March 7 to 13 is being recognized as Prostate Cancer Awareness Week and Mrs. Lee explained that the release of the new drugs was a timely addition to the week and was aimed at fulfilling the NHF’s mandate of reducing the cost of healthcare for ordinary Jamaicans.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in Jamaica and is the most common cause of cancer deaths in Jamaican men.