FDA approves advanced pancreatic cancer treatment

22 Oct 2015

The FDA approved irinotecan liposome injection (Onivyde) for metastatic pancreatic cancer in combination with fluorouracil (Adrucil) and leucovorin in patients who have already received gemcitabine-based chemotherapy.

The new formulation, which encapsulates conventional irinotecan in nanoparticle liposomes in an effort to improve the pharmacokinetics and tolerability, had been given priority review and orphan drug status in this setting. Liposomal irinotecan is marketed by Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.

The combination increased overall survival

The approval for metastatic pancreatic cancer was based on a randomized, open-label study showing mean overall survival of 6.1 months on liposomal irinotecan plus fluorouracil/leucovorin, compared to 4.2 months with fluorouracil/leucovorin alone. The combination also increased the time to progression, with an average of 3.1 months compared to 1.5 months, respectively.

CareAcross-ampoules

Liposomal irinotecan alone was no better than fluorouracil/leucovorin alone in the trial, and the drug was not approved for single-agent use in metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Serious side effects

The most common side effects of liposomal irinotecan were diarrhea, fatigue, vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, stomatitis, and fever.

The label has a boxed warning about the risks of severe neutropenia and diarrhea. "Death due to sepsis following neutropenia has been reported in patients treated with Onivyde," the FDA press release noted.

Source: MedPage Today

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