An industry veteran with experience spanning over 24 years, in various consumer industries like Nestle, Pepsi and B2B segments like Whirlpool, Dell and Samsung, Sameer Garde, is currently President, Philips Healthcare, South Asia. In conversation with Ekta Srivastava, Health Technology, he elaborates more on recent Philips introduction of Proton Therapy cancer Treatment in India
Tell us something about this new introduction of proton therapy in the world of cancer treatment.
Today, there are approximately 300 million cancer patients in India, a million additional cancer patients get added every year. According to WHO, 10 years from now India will have 5 times the number of cancer patients what we have today. Anywhere from 500- 600 thousand people die of cancer every year in India, making it pretty serious killer disease, which needs some improvement in treatment.
Now, there are two or three ways through which cancer is treated. Chemotherapy, which is drug based solution, then surgery, where you just extract the tumor out and last is radiation therapy, which is photon based therapy. All of them have their own merits depending on the type of cancer but there are certain cancers like of head and neck, spine related cancers, lung cancer and left breast cancer, which is close to the heart or pediatric cancer. These are the cancers which are closed to a very sensitive organ, so you don’t want a treatment which can cause lot of side effects or collateral damage. Here we want a very precise killing of just the tumor and nothing around it. So, this is what proton therapy exactly does. It deposits the majority of their energy within a precisely controlled zone, directly in the tumors while limiting the impact on healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. This is basically ultimum cancer precision treatment.
What are the clinical advantages of proton therapy?
Proton has unique properties, which allow proton therapy to treat tumors with unmatched accuracy, security and efficiency. The administered dose is focused on the tumor and spares healthy surrounding tissues, thereby reducing side effects such as radiation-induced cancers.
What is the future of proton therapy?
Proton therapy faces different challenges, by its very nature; it occupies a place of choice in the fight against cancer, but at the same time requires state-of-art technology that reduces its accessibility. IBA, the world leader in the field, wants to answer these challenges by facilitating access to the technology, offering value added solution to meet clinical need and demonstrating and promoting the sustainable clinical differential advantages of proton therapy.
Today, the number of proton therapy installations is still relatively limited. PT existing facilities thus attract patients from around the world. Patients who could potentially benefit from proton therapy are numerous, but heavy investments on this technology have so far been limiting. This is why we are committed to making proton therapy more affordable for health systems and therefore more available to patients.
In this context, a new product called Proteus ONE, has been designed, much smaller and more affordable that existing products already on the market., This new systems consisting of one treatment room significantly reduces the cost, pace and installation time requirements for the construction of the center, thus facilitating access to proton therapy to more people.
How your collaboration with IBA does come up?
We are very pleased to announce that Philips India and IBA have introduced the best-in-class proton beam therapy for cancer patients in India.
Philips is a leader in image-guided therapies and IBA is a leader provider of proton therapy solutions for the treatment of cancer. They have across 50 percent share around the world in proton therapy solutions. So, the alliance combines Philips expertise in clinical informatics and innovative imaging techniques for therapy and guidance and IBA’s strengths in proton therapy.
The agreement for India has been done last year in September, which comprises research and development, marketing and sales of imaging and therapy solutions in oncology. The collaboration also enables both organizations to mutually leverage technologies and solutions.
We have collaborated in various geographies. We are planning to do it globally but currently there are 4 countries where this collaboration is working. India is the fifth one.
Started with Apollo, which other hospitals are under your target?
Tata Memorial has come out with the tender, guess we would be working with them but it’s a tendon situation. Other players are also in the frame and there are some other customers too.
When we are going to hear from Philips next?
You will continue to hear us. Every year we launch around 15-16 products and this year we have already launched 7-8 products and we will launch similar kind of products in the second half of this year. You will see lots of action from Philips in healthcare.
What government initiative you are looking for healthcare?
This particular government, I have always believed has a right thinking in terms of the broad areas they are working on. Firstly, making it easy to do business, in a place like India. I think this is the priority of this particular government. Number 2, I would like to see them spend more in healthcare. At last that they have strong focus in ‘Make in India’, so I m hoping some of the policies, between manufactures, suppliers and government will get resolved.