Lilly’s lung cancer drug Alimta is approved in US

Eli Lilly’s lung cancer drug Alimta (pemetrexed) — the first drug available for maintenance therapy of advanced or metastatic lung cancer, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USA.

Patients with cancer often receive maintenance therapy to prevent the disease from progressing after their tumor has shrunk or the disease has stabilized in response to chemotherapy.

Alimta disrupts metabolic processes that are dependent on the B-vitamin folate, a necessary ingredient for cell replication.

“This drug represents a new approach in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director, Office of Oncology Drug Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Typically, patients whose tumors respond to chemotherapy do not receive further treatment after four-to-six chemotherapy cycles. This study demonstrates an advantage in overall survival in certain patients who received Alimta for maintenance therapy.”

Alimta initially was approved in 2004 for the treatment of patients with mesothelioma, a cancer frequently related to asbestos exposure. The drug was later approved for the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose disease worsened on prior chemotherapy drugs and also as an initial therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.

Alimta is manufactured by Eli Lilly & Co. of Indianapolis.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USA

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