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Weekly Drug News Round-Up: November 8, 2017

Vyzulta: A Dual Mechanism Prostaglandin Analog Approved for Glaucoma

In glaucoma, damaged trabecular meshwork reduces aqueous humor drainage in the eye leading to elevated intraocular pressure Read More...

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Valeant’s Vyzulta (latanoprostene bunod ophthalmic solution, 0.024%), a once-daily treatment for the reduction of intraocular pressure (IOP) in patients with open angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension. Vyzulta is a nitric oxide (NO) donating prostaglandin receptor agonist with a NO metabolite. Vyzulta works by breaking down into two metabolites: latanoprost acid and butanediol mononitrate, both of which help to increase the outflow of aqueous humor. Common ocular side events include conjunctival hyperemia (redness), eye irritation or pain. Increased pigmentation of the iris and periorbital tissue and growth of eyelashes can also occur.

Zelboraf is First Treatment for Erdheim-Chester Disease, a Rare Blood Cancer

Zelboraf was first approved in 2011 to treat metastatic melanoma with the BRAF V600E mutation Read More...

The FDA has expanded the approved indications for Genentech’s Zelboraf (vemurafenib) to include adult patients with Erdheim-Chester Disease (ECD) and BRAF V600 mutation. ECD is a rare cancer of the blood that previously had no other treatment options. Zelboraf is a kinase inhibitor that works by blocking certain enzymes that promote cell growth. In a study of Zelboraf with 22 ECD patients, 11 patients (50 percent) experienced a partial response (tumor size reduction) and 1 patient (4.5 percent) experienced a complete response. Common side effects in ECD trials included joint pain, rash, skin growths, hair loss, fatigue and changes in the heart’s electrical activity.

Alecensa: First-Line Option for ALK+ Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

ALK+ non-small cell lung cancer is often found in younger people who have a light or non-smoking history Read More...

Alecensa (alectinib) is an oral, anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor now FDA-approved as first-line treatment of ALK-positive metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In the Phase III ALEX pivotal study, Genentech's Alecensa significantly lengthened survival time without disease worsening (median progression-free survival [PFS] of 25.7 months) compared to crizotinib (median PFS of 10.4 months) and also showed a marked reduction in the risk of cancer spreading to the brain. Alecensa is now recommended in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines as a category 1, preferred, first-line treatment option for ALK+ metastatic NSCLC.

Could the Blood Thinner Warfarin Also Be a Cancer Preventive?

This observational study can’t prove that warfarin prevents cancer, only that an association was seen Read More...

Published this week in JAMA Internal Medicine, investigators report that warfarin (Coumadin) may also protect against many types of cancer, especially prostate, lung and breast cancer. Among 1.25 million adults taking warfarin, fewer developed cancer compared with those not taking the drug. Experimental cancer models have found that warfarin blocks a receptor called AXL on tumor cells, which might explain the effect. The newer oral anticoagulants like Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Eliquis (apixaban) work by different mechanisms and are not expected to have the same cancer protective effect as warfarin. Due to bleeding risks, researchers say more studies are needed to determine warfarin’s role in cancer prevention.

Will the Flu Shot Be Any More Effective This Year?

The influenza vaccine is still the best way to lower your risk of flu or serious complications Read More…

Did you come down with the flu last year even though you got the flu shot? You’re not alone. Last year’s flu vaccine was only 20% to 30% effective in the U.S. because the predominant flu strain, H3N2, mutated upon contact with chicken eggs when grown in culture to make vaccines. If the predominant influenza strain this year is H1N1, the vaccine could be as much as 60% effective, but if it's H3N2, poor results may repeat. Researchers note that using vaccines not grown in egg culture but in animal cells, such as with Flucelvax, or with DNA techniques, as with Flublok, may be one option to help with low effectiveness due to growth in chicken eggs. Studies with the the newer vaccines compared to egg-grown vaccines could answer some important questions.