Abraxane approved: Abraxane, a drug used to treat late-stage pancreatic cancer, has been approved for consumer use by the Food and Drug Administration, reports Yahoo! Finance on Sept. 6. There are relatively few drugs available for advanced cancers of the pancreas, making Abraxane a welcome addition to metastatic cancer-fighting treatments.
Biopharmaceutical company Celgene Corporation, manufacturer of Abraxane, said clinical trials showed the drug to lengthen patient lives by approximately two months. While that may seem to be only a modest advance against late-stage pancreatic cancer, the drug does offer some headway against a cancer that typically kills within six months.
Pancreatic cancer is difficult to detect early enough for potential life-saving treatment, putting the focus of most pancreatic drugs on prolonging a patient’s life, rather than saving it.
“Patients with pancreatic cancer are often diagnosed after the cancer has advanced and cannot be surgically removed,” Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of cancer drugs for the FDA “In these situations, and in situations where the cancer has progressed following surgery, options like Abraxane can help prolong a patient’s life.”
Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. On average, approximately 45,000 individuals are diagnosed each year with cancer of the pancreas, with only 7,000 surviving.
The high mortality rate of pancreatic cancer has left researchers looking for a treatment that could prolong lives. Abraxane, when used along with a standard pancreatic cancer treatment of the drug Gemcitabine, was shown to lengthen patient lives to a median of 8.5 months, compared to 6.7 months for those who received Gemcitabine only.
Abraxane is not a new drug to the cancer-fighting scene – it was approved by the FDA to treat breast cancer in 2005 and lung cancer in 2012. The cost of the drug, according to Celgene, would be approximately $7,000 per month.