The Department of Health was hoping to finalise its negotiations with Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche to cut the price of its breast-cancer drug Herceptin by November 2017, with a view to enrolling the first patients in January 2018, a senior official told Business Day on Sunday. Concluding these talks is essential for delivering on the promises made in the government’s new breast cancer strategy, which for the first time recommends that eligible patients receive trastuzumab, the active ingredient in Herceptin. The strategy, published on Friday, says trastuzumab should be provided to patients with HER2 tumours at three weekly intervals for a year. But it contains a caveat, saying it must be affordable and not come at the expense of cutting other healthcare services. "The key issue is funding. We will not be paying what the private sector pays," said the department’s deputy director-general for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and maternal and child health Yogan Pillay. The Fix the Patent Laws...

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