South African health insurer approves reimbursement of SIR-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres for patients with liver tumours


Sirtex SIR Spheres_mainSirtex has announced that Discovery Health, a South African private health insurer, has agreed to reimburse Sir-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres for the treatment of all forms of inoperable liver tumours. Sir-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres are a medical device used in an interventional radiology procedure known as SIRT or radioembolisation, which targets high doses of radiation directly to liver tumours.

The two most common forms of liver tumours in South Africa today are primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma or HCC), which is typically caused initially by hepatitis or chronic alcohol use, and liver metastases that have spread from cancer of the bowel (metastatic colorectal cancer or mCRC). According to Globocan data for 2012, the latest year reported, primary liver cancer is the tenth most common form of cancer in South Africa, with 2,000 new cases diagnosed annually. Colorectal cancer is the fifth most frequently diagnosed cancer in South Africa, with 4,700 cases diagnosed. When colorectal cancer spreads, or metastasises, it most often spreads to the liver. Liver tumours will eventually cause the death of the majority of patients.

Jean-Marc Maurel, Clinical and Radiation Oncologist from GVI Rondebosch Oncology Centre in Cape Town confirmed, “This approval by Discovery Health is good news as it provides improved patient access to Sir-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres which have been shown in clinical studies to control the growth of liver tumours”.

Waldemar Szpak, Radiation Oncologist at Rainbow Oncology Center in Durban, stated “SIRT with Sir-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres is a technology that allows us to administer high doses of radiation directly to liver tumours without affecting other organs. The large, recent SIRFLOX clinical trial showed that SIRT with Sir-Spheres keeps liver tumours in check for almost eight months longer than regular chemotherapy alone when it was used early in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer that had spread only or mainly to the liver. I am pleased that our patients will now have increased access to this technology. This treatment has great potential in the management of other cancers involving liver that are amenable for direct catheterisation and embolisation with Sir-Spheres.”

“We are pleased that Sir-Spheres microspheres will now be available to liver cancer patients in South Africa, especially so because South Africa is also my native country. This decision by Discovery Health affirms the strong evidence of efficacy and safety for Sir-Spheres in these patients,” said Nigel Lange, chief executive officer of Sirtex Medical for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, whose parent company, Sirtex Medical Limited, developed and continues to study new uses of Sir-Spheres Y-90 resin microspheres in the treatment of liver tumours.