Nearly 2,000 people signed the petition proposed by a patient to request the reimbursement of a treatment: radium dichloride 223. Injected to patients suffering from metastasized cancer of the prostate, this product increases the lifespan but it is still not reimbursed in France because the health authorities do not consider it useful enough unlike the experts.
A former rugby player, family man in the Tours region, Thierry Marteau, suffering from metastasized prostate cancer but can not treat himself with an innovative product, radium 223, which is not reimbursed in France.
Every year in France, about 9000 men die from metastasized prostate cancer. It is a disease that affects mainly, but not always, older men.
According to studies and the best experts, radium dichloride 223, marketed in France under the name Xofigo® is very interesting in metastasized prostate cancer. It has a European marketing authorization since 2013, but it is still not reimbursed in France, despite its solid scientific record.
Like a bottle at the sea
It is a treatment administered in the form of injection, and to do up to six times maximum. The problem is that it is not reimbursed and is very expensive. Between 4000 and 5000 € the injection, or 30 000 Euros for the treatment. Thousands of patients can not access it, while lives are at stake. A phenomenon of non-reimbursement of drugs that have a marketing authorization that is observed more and more in France.
For this reason, several leading doctors specializing in human cancers, including professors Christophe Hennequin and Stéphane Culine (Hôpital Saint-Louis, Paris) and Karim Fizazi (Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif), and patient associations ( APCLP-CERHOM) had sent a solemn letter to the Minister of Health in December 2017 to stop "being wandered" by the administration. It trails to grant reimbursement and allow access to treatment to patients who deserve it in France.
The petition of Thierry Marteau is part of this approach, a text launched in early January "like a bottle in the sea" one evening that he was "eaten by the feeling of injustice and anger", according to what he entrusted to our confreres of The New Republic.
Treatment available elsewhere in Europe
Authorized on the European market since 2013, radium dichloride 223 is still virtually inaccessible in France.
For comparison, it has been prescribed only 64 times in France, against more than 3000 times in Germany.
Not being reimbursed, doctors can not prescribe it externally except to have it paid by the patient. If this is the case during hospitalization, it is often the administration of the hospital that blocks. Because it would then be up to the hospital to pay the budget for treatment, or it can not support this type of costs in times of fiscal austerity.
In addition, radium dichloride 223 is not a curative treatment. Effective on patients with advanced prostate cancer, it saves time, significantly increases survival and improves quality of life by reducing pain.
Ministry of Health already alerted
More than a year ago, under the government of François Hollande, a doctor had already tried to make things happen. Pierre-Luc Étienne, an oncologist in Saint-Brieuc (Côtes-d'Armor), had helped one of his patients to contact the government and the health authorities. This patient in question, already put forward his bone pain, which could be appeased thanks to the dichloride of radium 223. But his letters remained unanswered.
Dr. Pierre-Luc Etienne, also deplores the responsibility of laboratories, which set prices well above the cost of production. And this, risking the health of the sick.
To sign the petition, please click here.