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The high cost of lifesaving cancer drugs has been in the news lately. But as Pharmac prepares to fund one of the latest, there is news that some already widely used medicines may soon be significantly cheaper thanks to milk from New Zealand goats.
Until a drug comes off patent, Pharmac often has to negotiate the price with the pharmaceutical company that developed it, which understandably wants to offset its costs and turn a profit. Once it’s off patent, anyone can produce the drug, but typically this is expensive.
Now AgResearch and a University of Auckland team led by Professor Peter Shepherd have joined forces in a bid to produce cheaper, effective anti-cancer drugs from an antibody in the milk of transgenic dairy goats.
The drug that researchers are focusing on initially is cetuximab, which treats a wide range of metastatic cancers. This is one of a class of drugs, delivered intravenously or by injection, that uses mono-clonal antibodies to fight cancer in several ways.
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