Monday, September 9, 2013

Celgene's breast cancer drug approved for pancreatic cancer now, too

How tough is pancreatic cancer to treat?  FDA approval of existing cancer drug, Abraxane, based on anemic overall survival (OS) stat improvement of a meager 1.8 months.  Here's a short article about it, courtesy of HealthDay News:

Abraxane Approved for Late-Stage Pancreatic Cancer


Previously sanctioned for cancers of the lung and breast


FRIDAY, Sept. 6 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for Abraxane (paclitaxel) has been expanded to include advanced pancreatic cancer, the agency said Friday in a news release.

The agency previously approved the chemotherapy drug to treat cancers of the lung and breast.
Some 45,220 people are expected to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year, and an estimated 38,460 will die from it, the FDA said.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death. Surgery is the only way to permanently remove pancreatic cancer, but it's usually too late for surgery by the time most cases are identified, the agency said.

Abraxane's safety and effectiveness in treating pancreatic cancer were evaluated in clinical trials involving 861 people. Those treated with Abraxane and another chemotherapy drug, gemcitabine, lived an average of 1.8 months longer than those treated with gemcitabine alone.

Common side effects of the drug combination included a drop in white blood cells and blood platelets, fatigue, nerve damage in the extremities, vomiting, diarrhea and fever.
Abraxane is marketed by Celgene, based in Summit, N.J.

1.8 months?  Hard to say if I would endure side effects like those for such a short return on my quality of life "investment."

I have an acquaintance battling pancreatic cancer now. Doing better than Mayo Clinic docs expected.  Original six month prognosis may turn into a year or more.  Not sure if he is using this drug as part of his ongoing chemotherapy regimen...

Tough stuff!  Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

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