JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has launched the Saudi Oncology Health Economics Expert Group (SHARP), the first initiative of its kind in the Middle East which will evaluate the costs of treatment and create a platform for cancer patients and survivors.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Saudi Society of Clinical Pharmacy (SSCP) and AstraZeneca on Thursday to establish SHARP, which will act as an consultancy council made up of clinical decision-makers when it comes to effective treatment measures.
“It was important to bring together a group of medical and economic experts who can give recommendations on how to evaluate costly treatment. The dependency and evaluation of these medications
should rest upon the value of the treatment, and not its cost,” AstraZeneca’s GCC cluster president Ismail Shehada said.
The cost of medical treatment for cancer has become a burden both to patients and to companies and hospitals. According to the Saudi
Oncology Society, the average cost
of treatment for a cancer patient is approximately SR1 million ($267,000) per year.
“This indirectly affects the patient’s interest,” said Shehada. By providing hospitals and decision-makers with a list of effective treatment, “You limit the process and time it takes for them to obtain new oncology treatment.”
Former cancer patients are also participating in SHARP. This platform will allow them to talk about their struggles, how they received their treatment, the time it took to receive it, and their input on what they thought pharmaceutical companies and the health sector could have done to help to facilitate better and faster treatment. This can help to improve health service quality and patient experience.
SHARP will include representatives of pharmacoeconomics, the science of comparing pharmaceutical drugs, from various health sectors including the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, National Guard Hospital, Ministry of Health, King Faisal Specialized Hospital.