FDA approves lung cancer drug Alimta

Thursday, August 19th 2004, 1:07 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Food and Drug Administration approved a cancer drug made by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. to treat advanced non-small cell lung cancer in patients who have undergone chemotherapy.

According to the American Cancer Society, non-small cell lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the nation. By the time most patients arrive for treatment, the cancer is widespread.

The drug, Alimta, in clinical trials was found to shrink tumors as effectively as another cancer drug, Taxotere. But Alimta did so with fewer troubling side effects, including hair loss, depressed blood count and hospitalizations for subsequent infection.

The treatment, 500 mg every 21 days, costs patients $3,900 per month, according to the company.

``There's no question, the survival was comparable to the survival with the best drugs we have,'' said Dr. Paul Bunn, director of the University of Colorado Cancer Center and principal investigator for several of the drug's clinical trials. ``As a doctor, this drug is as good as anything else we have. It does benefit patients.''