Chandigarh, September 21
The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, has witnessed a significant increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for blood cancer, courtesy a revolutionary “magic bullet” drug known as Imatinib Mesylate. From a mere 100 patients in 2005, the institute now offers treatment to over 4,000 patients.
The head of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at the institute, Dr Pankaj Malhotra, revealed there had been an “astonishing transformation” in the treatment landscape. He explained before 2005, when no cure for blood cancer was available, the survival rate was dismal and only around 100 patients sought treatment at the institute.
The turning point came with the introduction of Imatinib Mesylate, referred to as “magic bullet” drug. Initially, it was available at a cost of Rs 1.3 lakh, but later the introduction of an Indian generic version significantly lowered the cost to Rs 20,000. Today, this life-saving medication is accessible to patients at an affordable cost of Rs 1,000, opening doors to treatment for many.
Dr Malhotra emphasised that early detection and timely treatment with Imatinib Mesylate had made blood cancer, particularly chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML), a curable condition. Previously, CML patients faced a bleak prognosis with an average life expectancy of just 2-3 years.
The impact of this “magic bullet” medication has been nothing short of astounding. CML patients are now living healthy lives, with their condition managed like chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension. Since 2001, PGIMER, in collaboration with The Max Foundation, US, has been providing Imatinib Mesylate free of cost to poor patients.
This effort, combined with the support from Ayushman Bharat and the PGI poor patient fund, has enabled nearly half of the 4,000 CML patients at the PGI to receive essential medicines without any financial burden.
“Regular medication adherence and health checkups have become the key to a normal life expectancy for these patients, underscoring remarkable advancements in modern medicine. The journey from a handful of survivors in 2005 to thousands of patients leading normal lives today is a testament to the power of medical innovation and compassionate support systems,” said Dr Malhotra.
Survival rate of patients goes up
- The impact of ‘magic bullet’ medication has been nothing short of astounding, says Dr Pankaj Malhotra of PGI
- Chronic myeloid leukaemia patients are now living healthy lives, with their condition better managed
- PGIMER, in collaboration with The Max Foundation, US, has been providing drug free of cost to poor patients
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