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August 2019 (Vol. 4 Issue 6)

New prostate cancer ‘wonder drug’ not so wonderful after all
About the author: 
Bryan Hubbard

New prostate cancer ‘wonder drug’ not so wonderful after all image

It was the great new wonder drug for advanced prostate cancer. It was approved by America’s drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in April—and just two months later an independent research group has discovered that cabozantinib, marketed as Cabometyx, is no better than existing products on the market.

Cabozantinib helps cancer sufferers live an extra month or two, but then so do the older drugs for the condition, say researchers from the Medical University of Vienna.

The results were surprising, say the researchers, especially as the drug had performed so well in earlier trials. Those early trials had shown the drug slows the progress of prostate cancer and improves the quality of life of the sufferer—but these were tests on small groups of patients.

Those benefits disappeared when the drug was tested on more than a thousand prostate cancer patients.

The FDA approved the new drug on the basis of the earlier trials, which involved 330 patients. Tested against an existing drug, it doubled the life expectancy of the sufferer—from 3.8 months to 7.4 months—although 40 per cent of those taking it complained of serious adverse reactions, including abdominal pains, diarrhea, nausea and pleural effusion (excess fluid around the lungs).


References

(Source: Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2016; doi: 10.1200/JCO.2016.68.0439)

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