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Published On: Fri, Jul 12th, 2013

FDA approves Gilotrif for the treatment of a type of late-stage lung cancer

Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved GILOTRIF (afatinib)  tablets for oral use, as a new first-line (initial) treatment for patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with common epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations as detected by an FDA-approved test.

Lung and diaphragm Image/National Cancer Institute

Lung and diaphragm
Image/National Cancer Institute

Gilotrif is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that blocks proteins that promote the development of cancerous cells. It is intended for patients whose tumors express the EGFR exon 19 deletions or exon 21 L858R substitution gene mutations. Gilotrif is being approved concurrently with the therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit, a companion diagnostic that helps determine if a patient’s lung cancer cells express the EGFR mutations.

In some people, genetic mutations lead to the constant activation of the EGFR protein, which is associated with uncontrolled cell division and the development and progression of NSCLC.2 Among patients diagnosed with NSCLC (the most common form of lung cancer3), it is estimated that between 10 and 15 percent of Caucasians and approximately 40 percent of Asians have EGFR mutations4 – which in 90 percent of cases are one of the two most common EGFR mutations (Del19 or L858R).5

“The approval of GILOTRIF offers a new treatment option and provides a personalized treatment approach for patients with EGFR mutation-positive metastatic non-small cell lung cancer,” said Berthold Greifenberg, M.D., vice president, Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Oncology, at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals. “Over the past decade, great progress has been made in understanding the biology of lung cancer and GILOTRIF is an example of how, at BI, we are translating this knowledge into a new treatment option for patients.”

“Today’s approvals further illustrate how a greater understanding of the underlying molecular pathways of a disease can lead to the development of targeted treatments,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Gilotrif is the second drug approved this year for patients with untreated metastatic NSCLC whose tumors have the EGFR exon 19 deletions or exon 21 L858R substitution mutations.”

Common side effects of Gilotrif include diarrhea, skin breakouts that resemble acne, dry skin, itching (pruritus), inflammation of the mouth, skin infection around the nails (paronychia), decreased appetite, decreased weight, inflammation of the bladder (cystitis), nose bleed, runny nose, fever, eye inflammation and low potassium levels in the blood (hypokalemia). Serious side effects include diarrhea that can result in kidney failure and severe dehydration, severe rash,  lung inflammation and liver toxicity.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men and women. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 228,190 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer, and 159,480 will die from the disease this year. About 85 percent of lung cancers are NSCLC, making it the most common type of lung cancer. EGFR gene mutations are present in about 10 percent of NSCLC, with the majority of these gene mutations expressing EGFR exon 19 deletions or exon 21 L858R substitution.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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