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• About 85 per cent of all lung cancers are identified as non-small cell, and approximately 75 per cent of these are metastatic or advanced at diagnosis1 . ALK-positive tumours occur in about 3 to 5 percent of NSCLC cases2. Every year, an estimated 72,000 people are diagnosed with ALK-positive NSCLC worldwide3.
• The ongoing COVID-19 situation may worsen the financial vulnerabilities of cancer patients who may be experiencing a double financial blow, both from cancer-induced financial toxicity as well as economic strains arising from loss of income and prolonged unemployment8.
• ALKare PLUS is a patient assistance programme by Pfizer to support ALK-positive advanced NSCLC patients’ treatment continuity.
KUALA LUMPUR, 1 November 2021 – Pfizer Malaysia today announced the launch of ALKare PLUS, a patient assistance programme to support anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients’ treatment continuity for improved outcome and better quality of life. Through this programme, advanced lung cancer patients can better plan their finances and gain access to innovative medical treatment.
Globally, NSCLC accounts for about 85 per cent of lung cancers1, of which 3 to 5 per cent of NSCLC tumours are ALK-positive2 , resulting from a gene rearrangement that causes tumour growth. Patients with ALK-positive lung cancer are more likely to be female, diagnosed before the age of 50, and have never smoked or had a history of light smoking3 .
“Over the last two decades, significant progress has been made in improving the diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer4 , 5 . Lung cancer can be categorized into different types, in which some lung cancers involve gene mutations that affect how quickly cancer grows and divides6,7 . The ALK mutation is one of those gene changes3 . This type of lung cancer used to be hard to treat, but today, there are a group of new targeted therapies that are very effective against it and have contributed to both patient survival and quality of life4, said Dr John Low, Consultant Clinical Oncologist.
Majority of respondents (78%) surveyed by Lung Cancer Network Malaysia in August 2021 believed that affordability is the main barrier preventing patients from seeking effective medical treatment9 .
A story of hope and resilience amidst financial hardship and challenges
Three years ago, En Badrunnizam was diagnosed with lung cancer, and he was devastated when he received the news. Coughing was his only symptom, but little did he know, cancer cells had been growing and spreading in his body. It turned out to be stage four lung cancer.
“I never thought it would turn out to be so serious. It was only cough after all. But in April 2018, as I sat in the oncologist’s room with my wife, I heard the words – stage four lung cancer. I felt fearful, emotional, and hopeless,” said En Badrunnizam.
Now 47 years old, En Badrunnizam is a father of three children aged 21, 19 and 11 years old.
“I began to feel hopeful when I found out that there are new therapies for ALK-positive advanced NSCLC patients like me. Since I could have access to innovative treatment, I am motivated to stay positive for the sake of my children and loved ones.” En Badrunnizam recalled the immense physical and financial toll that cancer treatments took on his late mother who battled cancer, as well as the family.
“Finances were a concern of course. I am fortunate to be supported by my employee benefits and ALKare PLUS, a patient assistance programme to defray treatment costs. I still have to plan my finances carefully with my family, but I have also learned that this is the definition of a cancer journey; it is about making choices that will enable me to have a good quality of life, for as long as possible.”
“I know how scary it can be for those who are diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, but please know that you are not alone. The most important thing is to seek doctor’s advice and discuss available treatment as well as financing options. I have survived for three and a half years by taking each day as it comes. My fate might not be in my hands, but my faith is,” added En Badrunnizam.
ALKare PLUS: Pfizer’s patient assistance programme expands access to innovative lung cancer treatment in Malaysia
The costs associated with cancer care can have a significant financial impact on patients and their families, especially during this time8 . Dr John Low emphasised the importance of access to treatment options as well as seeking professional guidance on financial assistance and resources. “Medical costs remain a big barrier for patients when it comes to accessing innovative lung cancer treatments such as targeted therapies9,10 .”
“It is vital for patients to have access to these medical advances and explore all possible avenues. In Malaysia, there are several financing options that support lung cancer patients such as SOCSO, EPF, insurance11 , and patient assistance programmes including ALKare PLUS. Innovations in lung cancer treatments mean people may live longer and with better quality of lives, even when their disease is advanced12 . Speak to your doctor to learn more,” added Dr John Low.
The delays and disruption of timely access to cancer care could lead to patients presenting with worsened conditions and at more advanced cancer stages8. In Malaysia, the COVID-19 situation may also have aggravated the rates of unemployment, loss of income, and limited access to support from family or friends8.
“Pfizer is committed to supporting lung cancer patients throughout their treatment journey, and their financial needs are an important part of this. Our approach to expanding patient’s access to innovative treatment is informed by two core principles: that medicines help people live longer, healthier, more productive lives; and patients should have affordable access to the medicines they need,” said Ms Luksanawan Thangpaibool, Country Manager, Pfizer Malaysia & Brunei.
“Today we are proud to launch ALKare PLUS programme in Malaysia, to put effective treatments in the hands of those who need it so that patients can live their lives to the fullest,” added Ms Luksanawan Thangpaibool, Country Manager, Pfizer Malaysia & Brunei.
Patients are advised to consult their doctor to learn more about the type of support and financial help available including patient assistance programmes such as ALKare PLUS.
About ALKare PLUS
ALKare PLUS is a patient assistance programme by Pfizer to support anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients’ treatment continuity for improved outcome and better quality of life. Through this programme, lung cancer patients can better plan their finances and gain access to innovative medical treatments.
About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the most common cancer worldwide, with more than two million new cases diagnosed globally in 201813 . About 85 percent of all lung cancers are identified as non-small cell, and approximately 75 percent of these are metastatic, or advanced, at diagnosis1. NSCLC accounts for approximately 80-85% of lung cancers, with ALK-positive tumors occurring in about 3-5% of NSCLC cases2.
About Pfizer in Lung Cancer
Pfizer Oncology is committed to addressing the unmet needs of patients with lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide and a particularly difficult-to-treat disease. Pfizer strives to address the diverse and evolving needs of patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) by developing efficacious and tolerable therapies, including biomarker-driven therapies. By combining leading scientific insights with a patient-centric approach, Pfizer is continually advancing its work to match the right patient with the right medicine at the right time. Through our research and collaboration efforts, we are committed to delivering renewed hope to patients living with NSCLC.
About Pfizer Oncology
At Pfizer Oncology, we are committed to advancing medicines wherever we believe we can make a meaningful difference on the lives of patients. Today, Pfizer Oncology has an industry-leading portfolio of 22 approved innovative cancer medicines and biosimilars across more than 30 indications, including breast, prostate, kidney and lung cancers, as well as leukemia and melanoma.
Pfizer Inc.: Breakthroughs that change patients' lives
At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to bring therapies to people that extend and significantly improve their lives. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacture of health care products, including innovative medicines and vaccines. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, we collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the world. For more than 170 years, we have worked to make a difference for all who rely on us.