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FDA Approves New Maintenance Therapy Drug to Treat Advanced Lung Cancer

The FDA approved Alimta yesterday, the first maintenance therapy drug available to treat advanced lung cancer. Patients are often treated with maintenance therapy to prevent the cancer from spreading once the tumor itself is shrunk or has been responsive to chemotherapy. Alimta disrupts the production of B-vitamin folate in certain cells, a necessary ingredient for cell replication.

When asked on his thoughts about Alimta, Dr. Richard Pazdur, MD, and director of the FDA’s Drug Evaluation and Research Office of Oncology Drug Products stated, “This drug represents a new approach in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. Typically, patients whose tumors respond to chemotherapy do not receive further treatment after four-to-six chemotherapy cycles. This study demonstrates an advantage in overall survival in certain patients who received Alimta for maintenance therapy.”

Alimta, manufactured by Eli Lily & Co. of Indianapolis, initially was approved in 2004 for the treatment of patients with mesothelioma, a cancer frequently related to asbestos exposure. The drug was later approved for the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease worsened on prior chemotherapy drugs and also as an initial therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

For more information, see the FDA News Release at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm170515.htm

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