FDA approves new drug to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma

FDA approves new drug to treat non-Hodgkin lymphoma

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration  approved Beleodaq (belinostat) Thursday, July 3 for the treatment of patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL), a rare and fast-growing type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). The action was taken under the agency’s accelerated approval program.

PTCL comprises a diverse group of rare diseases in which lymph nodes become cancerous. In 2014, the National Cancer Institute estimates that 70,800 Americans will be diagnosed with NHL and 18,990 will die. PTCL represents about 10 to 15 percent of NHLs in North America.

Beleodaq works by stopping enzymes that contribute to T-cells, a type of immune cell, becoming cancerous. It is intended for patients whose disease returned after treatment (relapsed) or did not respond to previous treatment (refractory).

“This is the third drug that has been approved since 2009 for the treatment of peripheral T-cell lymphoma,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval expands the number of treatment options available to patients with serious and life-threatening diseases.”

The FDA granted accelerated approval to Folotyn (pralatrexate) in 2009 for use in patients with relapsed or refractory PTCL and Istodax (romidepsin) in 2011 for the treatment of PTCL in patients who received at least one prior therapy.

The safety and effectiveness of Beleodaq was evaluated in a clinical study involving 129 participants with relapsed or refractory PTCL. All participants were treated with Beleodaq until their disease progressed or side effects became unacceptable. Results showed 25.8 percent of participants had their cancer disappear (complete response) or shrink (partial response) after treatment.

The most common side effects seen in Beleodaq-treated participants were nausea, fatigue, fever (pyrexia), low red blood cells (anemia), and vomiting.

The FDA’s accelerated approval program allows for approval of a drug based on surrogate or intermediate endpoints reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit for patients with serious conditions with unmet medical needs. Drugs receiving accelerated approval are subject to confirmatory trials verifying clinical benefit. Beleodaq also received orphan product designation by the FDA because it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition.

Beleodaq and Folotyn are marketed by Spectrum Pharmaceuticals, Inc., based in Henderson, Nevada. Istodax is marketed by Celgene Corporation based in Summit, New Jersey.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, promotes and protects the public health by, among other things, assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

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