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Mesothelioma Patients May Have Another Treatment Option With FDA Expanded-Use Approval of Lung Cancer Drug


In September, MesotheliomaHelp reported that Italian researchers found the response to ceritinib (Zykadia), an anti-cancer drug, was nearly immediate in non-small cell lung cancer patients who were previously treated with chemotherapy and crizotinib (Xalkori). Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted approval for expanded use of the drug to include the first-line treatment of NSCLC patients with ALK-positive tumors, opening the door for another treatment option for mesothelioma patients.

Ceritinib, marketed as Zykadia by Novartis, is intended for the treatment of metastatic NSCLC in patients who express the abnormal anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. Approximately 3%-5% of people with NSCLC may test positive for the ALK fusion gene. There is a potential that the marker is also present in certain pleural mesothelioma cases making it a new treatment option for the cancer.

In a May 26 press release from Novartis, the company reports that of the 376 patients in the study, those receiving Zykadia as first-line treatment realized a 16.6 month progression-free survival versus 8.1 months in patients treated with pemetrexed-platinum chemotherapy first-line regimen.

“Today’s approval represents the next step in the development of Zykadia as a treatment option for ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC, bringing this important medication to a patient population where a need still exists,” said Bruno Strigini, CEO, Novartis Oncology.

Pleural mesothelioma patients and oncologists keep a close eye on research and breakthroughs that impact NSCLC patients. Although the two cancers have some differences, including the structure of the tumors, patients often follow a similar treatment protocol.

“At Novartis, we are tireless in our pursuit of developing novel medicines to treat lung cancer, and the first-line approval of Zykadia for ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC illustrates our commitment to cancer patients,” said Strigini.

Close to 3,000 patients are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the U.S. Although survival has improved in recent years, there is still no cure for the asbestos-caused cancer.

To find out if you may be a candidate for Zykadia, talk to your medical professional. Visit the Novartis website for more information.

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