FDA approves new option for cancer patients

Vitrakvi is the first medication developed specifically to target tumors based on gene mutations, not their location in the body.

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 7:31 AM
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 7:44 AM

The US Food and Drug Administration approved two cancer treatments, Vitrakvi and Xospata, this week after expedited reviews.

Vitrakvi, approved Monday, is "a treatment for adult and pediatric patients whose cancers have a specific genetic feature (biomarker)."

The FDA said in a statement that it is the second approved cancer treatment that is based on a tumor biomarker instead of the place in the body where the tumor originated.

Vitrakvi will be used for the treatment of solid tumors that have an NTRK (neurotrophic receptor tyrosine kinase) gene fusion that do not have a known resistance mutation, that are not metastatic or where surgical removal is likely to lead to severe morbidity, and that have no alternative treatments or have progressed after treatments.

NTRK genes are rare but occur in many types of cancer, the FDA said, such as mammary analogue secretory carcinoma and infantile fibrosarcoma.

Xospata tablets, approved Wednesday, are for the "treatment of adult patients who have relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with a FLT3 mutation," according to the FDA.

Alongside the tablets, the agency also approved a diagnostic to detect the mutation.

"Approximately 25 to 30 percent of patients with AML have a mutation in the FLT3 gene. These mutations are associated with a particularly aggressive form of the disease and a higher risk of relapse," Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA's Oncology Center of Excellence, said in the statement.

AML is a rapidly progressing cancer that affects the numbers of normal blood cells and calls for continuous transfusions, the FDA said.

Both treatments were granted Priority Review designation.

Priority Review, established in 1992, means the FDA aims to review the drug or treatment within six months, opposed to 10 months for a standard review.

"A Priority Review designation will direct overall attention and resources to the evaluation of applications for drugs that, if approved, would be significant improvements in the safety or effectiveness of the treatment, diagnosis, or prevention of serious conditions when compared to standard applications," the FDA says.

Both treatments also received orphan drug designation, a status granted to drugs for rare diseases or conditions.

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