NCCS has started discussions with afatinib's vendor and is currently awaiting the vendor's confirmation as to when the new stock will arrive in Singapore.
We are sorry that our doctor did not check on the availability of afatinib before prescribing the drug.
Our senior pharmacist had explained the no-stock situation at NCCS to Mr Voon in person when he arrived with the prescription.
There are alternative drugs available to treat the particular condition; these are erlotinib and gefitinib, which are of the same drug class as afatinib and work through a similar mechanism of action.
These drugs are easily available at the NCCS and in Singapore.
As afatinib is a very newly registered drug, it is still not commonly used in Singapore and, hence, is not included under the Standard Drug List (SDL) at this moment.
There are drugs in the SDL that are just as clinically effective and subsidised.
For patients who need to use afatinib, subsidies under the Medication Assistance Fund can be extended to the patient if the use of the drug is assessed to be clinically necessary.
We apologise to the patient and her family members for any anxiety caused.
Toh Han Chong (Dr)
National Cancer Centre
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.