Mumbai: Roche, the world’s largest biotech company with blockbusters like cancer drug Herceptin and haemophilia medicine Hemlibra, has drawn up a blueprint for the Indian market that includes collaboration with stakeholders to improve access.
In an exclusive interview to TOI, Roche India’s recently-appointed MD Lara Bezerra said that, after launch of two innovative cancer drugs, the company feels that, under its ‘Vision 2030’, the “right collaboration and right focus” — along with sustainable and innovative solutions — will accelerate healthcare.
With its huge barriers to access in healthcare, India still presents many opportunities according to Bezerra, who chose to pick up the assignment after heading Venezuela. “We want to make a much bigger difference here (to patients). There is a bigger discussion now on how many more patients can we reach,” she said, and, perhaps, not only on revenue or profits.
The drugs include alectinib (Alecensa) for lung cancer and atezolizumab (Tecentriq) for lung and bladder cancer, while haemophilia treatment Hemlibra will be available here after a regulatory nod. Aligning with its focus on oncology, the company launched the first immunotherapy (biologic therapy) here in India, Tecentriq for lung and bladder cancer, she said. She added that the future of cancer is personalised treatment, with immunotherapy having shown promising results. “Globally, we have seven immunotherapy drugs under development in phase-2 and -3 of trials, which will also come to India.”
She said, “Right diagnosis is very important for immunotherapy, and we are looking at how we can use technology in the right direction to identify more patients.” The company is open to partnering healthcare startups here in this pursuit, and also may get its new acquisition — US-based Flatiron Health — to provide technology and data analytics infrastructure needed for cancer.
Responding to queries on affordability, Bezerra said the company looks at “India-specific prices” and hopes to create awareness so that more patients enrol in its assistance programmes. Besides oncology, it will focus on neurosciences and transplant treatment.