Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. But leukemia patients may have new hope. The FDA recently approved a new drug for the treatment of the deadly disease.
Fox news reports the FDA recently approved a leukemia drug created by Roche. “The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a new drug from Roche to help treat patients with a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The agency cleared Gazyva to fight chronic lymphocytic leukemia in combination with chemotherapy in patients who haven't previously been treated for the disease,” according to Fox.
The drug works in a relatively simple way.
Fox reports, “Gazyva works by killing cancer cells and encouraging the immune system to fight against them. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia develops slowly over time and is usually diagnosed in the elderly. More than 15,600 Americans will be diagnosed and 4,580 of them will die from the disease this year, according to estimates from the National Cancer Institute.”
The new drug showed better survival rates for patients who were taking it than those who were not. “Patients treated with Gazyva had median survival of 23 months before death, relapse or worsening of their disease. That compares with 11.1 months for the chemotherapy patients. The injectable biotech drug is the first medicine approved under FDA's breakthrough designation, which was authorized by Congress last year.
The new designation is designed to speed up the approval of promising drugs by providing companies with extra meetings and earlier communication with FDA scientists to discuss drug development,” according to Fox. The drug is said to be expensive but covered by patients’ insurance providers. The side effects (such as mild fever and muscle pain) were considered to be minor in comparison with the beneficial results.