FDA approves new breast cancer drug

Posted at: 02/22/2013 7:41 PM
Updated at: 02/22/2013 7:42 PM
By: Joangel Concepcion

A first of its kind breast cancer drug was approved Friday and it could extend the life of some cancer patients by a number of months. Experts are calling this ground breaking.

This study tested 991 women with advanced breast cancer and those who took the drug lived almost six months longer than those getting standard chemotherapy.

The medicine is made of a combination of a drug called Herceptin with a very toxic type of chemotherapy called T-DM1. The two work together to shrink the tumor and slow down the disease.  So far, the drug has shown positive results, adding on months of life to breast cancer patients.

This drug, like many other drugs, has its side effects. It can damage the heart, liver and lungs. Also pregnant woman can not take the drug. The company who created it is called Genentech. They are also moving even further with the research, focusing on a new formula that will have fewer side effects than chemo.

This drug is costly. A 10-month course of therapy costs $94,000. The Herceptin, alone, costs around $4,000 a month.

Genentech made a promise to the FDA saying it will help its patients pay for the drug. Those who don't have health insurance or who have reached the insurance company's limits, might qualify to receive the  drug free of charge.