Portrazza obtains FDA approval as combination advanced lung cancer treatment

Eli Lilly and Co.'s drug Portrazza was approved by the Food and Drug Administration Nov. 24 as a combination treatment for advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Also known as necitumumab, Portrazza is an IV injection to be used with the chemotherapies gemcitabine and cisplatin. The combination treatment is intended for individuals who haven't taken medication specifically for their lung cancer in the past. Portrazza works by blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), which is a protein that plays a role in the growth and spread of cancer cells.

A clinical study involving more than 1,000 individuals with advanced squamous NSCLC showed that those who took Portrazza in combination with the two forms of aforementioned chemotherapy lived longer by almost a year compared to roughly 10 months for those just taking the chemotherapies.

“Lung cancer tumors can be varied, so treatment options need to be tailored to the specific type of lung cancer in the patient,” Richard Pazdur, director of the office of hematology and oncology products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said. “Today’s approval provides certain patients with squamous cell lung cancer a new option that may extend survival.”

Lung cancer is the most-common cause of cancer-related death in men and women in the United States. It is expected to result in more than 158,000 deaths this year.

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