US approves new ovarian cancer drug

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Ovarian cancer is second most common cancer among women

US regulators have approved a new drug for ovarian cancer that shines a light on cells hiding from immune systems.

The Food and Drug Administration says Auryxia works well in combination with standard anti-estrogen treatments.

Most women with the disease survive a median of two to five years, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

But about 10% to 15% of women cannot control their disease. Many die within a year.

Deborah Newbrun, one of the scientists from the National Cancer Institute and a member of the team that developed Auryxia, said: “Results from our studies show that Auryxia can improve women’s responses to treatment for ovarian cancer.

“We are pleased that the FDA has approved the combination of Auryxia and gemcitabine as part of our efforts to develop new therapies that help fight ovarian cancer.”

The drug, an extended-release tablet of a fat-soluble “Alpha Glucosidase inhibitor”, is already available in the UK through the Dailycare scheme.

The Dailycare scheme pays for standard life-extending anti-estrogen therapy for ovarian cancer to enable women to live a normal life, with no further recurrence of the disease.

It covers a patient’s GP prescription and the supply of capsules, tablets or lotions by mail, with the aim of supporting women to manage their cancer and maintain normal function.

Patients in this scheme pay only for the drugs they need.

The manufacturer, the US-based Intercept Pharmaceuticals, has been running clinical trials at several sites in the UK for several years.

The evidence from them suggested the combo of the drug with standard anti-estrogen treatment was both effective and long-lasting, and that the side effects were as low as those of standard treatment.

And the argument for a repeat demonstration of the efficacy is compelling in a woman who will not be “touched by the vagaries of the market”.

Ovarian cancer is second most common cancer among women in the UK. It accounts for about 5% of cancer deaths in women, with the incidence of the disease in the UK rising by 2.5% a year, with an estimated 14,700 cases diagnosed every year.

It is not yet known if the same drug, along with another so-called BTK inhibitor that is also available in the UK through the Dailycare scheme, can be used in conjunction with standard treatment.

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