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    New drug offers hope to advanced breast cancer patients

    FDA approved a new treatment for certain breast cancer patients who are not responding to treatment.

    Abemaciclib (Verzenio, Eli Lilly and Company) treats patients who have hormone receptor (HR)-positive, human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has progressed after taking endocrine therapy.

    Related: Breast cancer biosimilar shows equivalency to brand

    Verzenio is approved to be given in combination with the endocrine therapy fulvestrant (Faslodex), after the cancer had grown on endocrine therapy. It is also approved to be given on its own, if patients were previously treated with endocrine therapy and chemotherapy after the cancer had spread.

    "Verzenio provides a new targeted treatment option for certain patients with breast cancer who are not responding to treatment, and unlike other drugs in the class, it can be given as a stand-alone treatment to patients who were previously treated with endocrine therapy and chemotherapy," said Richard Pazdur, MD, director of FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a statement from FDA.

    Related: FDA okays biosimilar for several cancers

    Verzenio works by blocking certain molecules (known as cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6) involved in promoting the growth of cancer cells.

    The safety and efficacy of Verzenio in combination with fulvestrant were studied in a randomized trial of 669 patients with HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that had progressed after treatment with endocrine therapy and who had not received chemotherapy once the cancer had metastasized.

    The median progression-free survival for patients taking Verzenio with fulvestrant was 16.4 months compared to 9.3 months for patients taking a placebo with fulvestrant.

    The safety and efficacy of Verzenio as a stand-alone treatment were studied in a single-arm trial of 132 patients with HR-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer that had progressed after treatment with endocrine therapy and chemotherapy after the cancer metastasized. In the study, 19.7% of patients taking Verzenio experienced complete or partial shrinkage of their tumors for a median 8.6 months.

    Read more: FDA okays targeted leukemia treatment

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