In the Philippines, the public healthcare system does not cover the cost of all medicines. Patients often have to pay out of their own pocket for treatment, especially for the most sophisticated medicines, and for the majority, this is unaffordable. To address this problem, we have developed a patient access programme that considers the individual affordability level of a patient. When a doctor prescribes one of our cancer medicines, an external agency makes a financial assessment and a discount on the prescribed medicine may be granted based on the patient’s capacity to pay.
In the Philippines, there is limited public funding for healthcare. Only a section of the working population have medical insurance plans through their employers. Despite this, 57% of health expenses are still out-of-pocket. The government-owned Philippine Healthcare Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) provides basic national healthcare coverage, however, it doesn’t include biologic cancer treatments.
Biologics is a relatively new class of drugs that includes Herceptin (trastuzumab), our targeted therapy for HER2-positive breast cancer. It is estimated that only 6% of the relevant patients have access to innovative cancer therapy and for these 6%, adherence to full-course treatment remains a challenge.
What we’re doing
We established the Roche Patient Access Programme to help people who are financially constrained. Physicians refer patients to the programme, who are then assessed by an independent third party for their ability to pay. Qualified patients receive a discount or free product for products like Herceptin, Avastin, MabThera, Perjeta, and Tarceva, based on their financial status. This initiative improves access to our products for poorer patients without impacting the price for patients who are able to pay out of pocket.
In addition to these programmes, we are working with both national and local government units to mobilise funding for cancer patients.
By implementing the patient assistance programmes, the number of patients who are now able to access innovative cancer treatment has increased by 23% in 2015. Furthermore, the ability of patients to complete the full treatment duration has increased significantly.