Foreign Medicines is one of the several international programmes of Podari Zhizn, actively supported by Gift of Life. Initially our charity was established for a practical reason. When purchasing vital foreign medicines for our patients, we tried to eliminate currency exchange fees and guarantee quick and reliable access to the stock. This approach paid off, and Gift of Life eventually became one of the key providers of such medicines for kids and young adults in Russia.
Foreign medicines have always been the charity’s main expenditure acquiring over 70 per cent of our annual spend. Erwinase, Foscavir, Zykadia, Atriance and Adcetris are just some of the drugs bought for the children under Gift of Life’s and Podari Zhizn’s care in 2016. Although we constantly cover costs of other programmes, including International Specialists and Bone Marrow Transplant, foreign medicines, unavailable in Russia due to different reasons, will definitely remain our major spend for the upcoming year.
While running on-going appeals to raise for Foreign Medicines, Gift of Life works really heard to reach its primary goal – to raise £3,000,000 in annual donations. This sum would entirely cover the need for foreign drugs for Podari Zhizn patients throughout the whole year.
To support our Foreign Medicines programme, please visit our Donate page.
According to medical statistics, about 1,000 children are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia annually in Russia. The treatment for this type of leukaemia typically requires a chemotherapy medication called Asparaginase, which efficiently suppresses division of tumor cells. The treatment protocol includes 18 infusions of this medication.
However, about 5% to 10% of children suffer from extreme allergic reactions to Asparaginase, which can even cause life-threatening respiratory arrest. Obviously, further administration of this drug becomes impossible. Interruption of treatment is not acceptable either. The most effective solution here is to replace Asparaginase with Erwinase. Both enzymes are very similar, having a suppressive effect on tumor cells. The difference is down to types of bacteria, producing these two enzymes, which means that patients with allergic reaction to Asparaginase can often tolerate Erwinase. With this life-saving alternative, patients can safely continue with their treatments.
Up to 60 children need Erwinase in Russia every year. Being a cutting-edge drug produced in the UK, Erwinase is very expensive. A pack of five vials costs around £3,000, and a child might require up to 15 packs. That can build the costs up to £45,000 for a full treatment.
Gift of Life and Podari Zhizn campaigned for better access to vital drugs, unregistered in Russia. The charities addressed the Russian government, the Ministry of Public Health and the Federal Customs Service. Finally, in the beginning of 2011, a delivery schedule for necessary unregistered drugs was developed. Thanks to Gift of Life, Erwinase became the first unregistered drug to be officially delivered to Russia.