A new drug to treat lung cancer just got approved


The FDA just approved a new drug to treat lung cancer.

The drug, made by Japanese drug giant Takeda Pharmaceuticals, is called brigatinib. It’s a type of ALK-inhibitor that’s taken orally to treat a certain kind of lung cancer after a first round of drugs failed.

In the past two days, the FDA has approved a handful of drugs , including a treatment for a rare disease that has a list price of $702,000 a year .

 

Here’s what you need to know

  • There are two types of lung cancer: small cell lung cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. Most people have the latter, and there are a number of types of non-small cell lung cancer .
  • Some of these cases have mutations that affect the ALK tyrosine kinase receptor. This makes these forms of lung cancer sensitive to a type of drug called ALK inhibitors. The first one, called Xalkori, was originally approved back in 2011. Since then, two more have come on the market that can be used when people become resistant to Xalkori. It’s at this point – when patients on Xalkori have become resistant – that brigatinib is approved to come in and treat the cancer.
  • The data used to approve brigatinib came from a phase 2 study that started back in 2014. In that study, progression-free survival – a clinical endpoint that basically means the cancer hasn’t grown – was 15.6 months.
  • Takeda picked up the drug when it acquired Ariad Pharmaceuticals, a deal which just closed in February .
  • Dr. David Kerstein, the global clinical lead for brigatinib, told Business Insider that the hope is to eventually have the drug be used as an alternative to Xalkori. A phase 3 trial that’s still ongoing is looking at Xalkori vs. brigatinib.
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