Gift of Life helps children with blood diseases and tumors, working with medical personnel in Russia and clinics that ultilise state-of-the-art schemes and protocols accepted throughout the world.
Unfortunately, some vital medications have not been registered in Russia, and are therefore not available on the Russian market. One such medication is Erwinase.
Medical statistics indicate that about 1,000 children in Russia are annually diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Their treatment typically requires a chemotherapy medication named Asparaginase, which efficiently suppresses division of tumor cells. The treatment protocol includes 18 infusions of this medication.
However, about 5% to 10% of children develop an extreme allergy to Asparaginase, sometimes causing respiratory arrest. Naturally, further administration of this drug becomes impossible. But interrupting the treatment is also unacceptable. An effective solution is to replace Asparaginase with Erwinase. These enzymes are very much alike, having a similar effect on tumor cells, but they are produced by different bacteria, which means patients who develop an allergic reaction to Asparaginase can often tolerate Erwinase, so treatment can continue. Gift of Life buys Erwinase from the UK.
In Russia, up to 60 children per year need Erwinase. However, Erwinase is expensive. A pack of five vials costs around £3,000 and a child might require up to 15 packs. That’s as much as £45,000 per child.
Our foundation has repeatedly discussed the problem of bringing vitally necessary unregistered drugs to Russia in the mass media. We have addressed the Russian government, the Ministry of Public Health and the Federal Customs Service.
Our efforts have not been in vain. In the beginning of 2011, the mechanism for delivery of vitally necessary unregistered drugs was finally developed. Thanks to Gift of Life, Erwinase became the first unregistered drug to be officially delivered to our country.
Gift of Life is planning to spend about £780,000 to buy Erwinase in 2012.