PHARMACY

Common chemotheraphy drug may be fatal, study finds

BY Anna Mcgrath

NEW YORK Research presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 45th Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla. found that a chemotherapy drug intended to help save the lives of cancer patients showed adverse, life-threatening and sometimes fatal allergic reactions.

A new study from the Research on Adverse Drug Events and Reports pharmacovigilance program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that from 1997 to 2007, 38% of the 287 cases of hypersensitivity reactions reported to the FDA’s Adverse Event Report System were associated with the use of Cremophor-based paclitaxel and resulted in death.

The solvent-administered taxane chemotheraphy used in the treatment of breast cancer and other cancers is believed to be the cause of such fatal hypersensitivity reactions. RADAR researchers found that 22% of all fatalities occurred in patients, regardless of pre-medication received by each patient to prevent hypersensitivity reactions. Another 15% experienced life-threatening respiratory arrest.

“The results of our review suggest that physicians should be vigilant in monitoring the safety of their patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment,” said leader of the study, Charles Bennett, M.D., program coordinator and a professor at Northwestern’s Feinberg School.

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Aurora Health Care to honor cancer survivors

BY Alaric DeArment

MILWAUKEE With more people diagnosed with cancer every year but more of them surviving, a nonprofit healthcare system in eastern Wisconsin plans to honor cancer survivors.

Aurora Health Care, which runs the Aurora Pharmacy chain as well as a network of hospitals and clinics, announced Tuesday that it would mark National Cancer Survivors Day on Saturday with several events in three Wisconsin cities.

“There has been great progress in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment that has resulted in ever-increasing numbers of survivors,” Aurora Health Care VP cancer services Joseph Mirro said. “Now that more patients are being cured of their cancer and living longer, there’s a growing number of survivors with unique needs.”

Events will include a walk and run for cancer in Milwaukee, a gathering in Sheboygan and booths offering cancer screenings and information in Oshkosh.

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FDA gives tentative approval to generic breast cancer treatment

BY Alaric DeArment

ROCKVILLE, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has given tentative approval to a generic drug for treating breast cancer.

The drug, Roxane Labs’ letrozole tablets in the 2.5 mg strength, is a generic version of Novartis’ Femara.

Femara had global sales of $1.13 billion in 2008, according to Novartis financial data. Novartis’ patent on the drug will expire in 2011, according to the FDA’s Orange Book.

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