KENILWORTH, NJ — A new drug, Lynparza (olaparib) has been approved for pancreatic cancer patients in the United States whose diseases have not progressed on at least 16 weeks of a first-line platinum-based chemotherapy regimen, a report from Fox 2 Detroit said.
The drug, which was originally created for ovarian cancer sufferers, was recommend earlier this month by a panel of experts at the FDA. They found that pancreatic cancer patients who were treated with it were able to go nearly twice as long without their cancer worsening than those taking a placebo treatment.
“Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer historically have faced poor outcomes due to the aggressive nature of the disease and limited treatment advances over the last few decades,” said Dave Fredrickson, executive vice president of the Oncology Business Unit at AstraZeneca, which makes the drug along with Merck.
“Lynparza is now the only approved targeted medicine in biomarker-selected patients with advanced pancreatic cancer,” he added.
Lynparza is a PARP inhibitor, a type of drug used to stop cancer cells from reproducing. Biomarker-selected patients are those with BRCA gene mutations, which hinder the body’s ability to fix damaged DNA and make it more susceptible to genetic mutations inside the cells that can lead to cancer.
“Metastatic pancreatic cancer patients have been waiting a long time for new therapy options for their devastating disease,” said Julie Fleshman, president and CEO of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, on Dec. 31.
“Today’s approval of Lynparza provides an exciting new treatment option for patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer.”
The drug is already approved for advanced ovarian cancer and metastatic breast cancer, and it has been used to treat 25,000 patients worldwide. The drug’s makers are looking into whether it can treat other types of cancer as well, the Fox 2 report said.
It is taken by mouth, and the most common side effects include anemia, nausea, vomiting and low white blood cell counts.