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Possible comeback for cancer drug


The restricted cancer drug Iressa could be making a comeback after research found it slowed the disease better than standard chemotherapy.

The US government restricted its use four years ago, but the AstraZeneca lung cancer drug has been found to be more effective than chemotherapy as a first-line treatment.

It is hoped the results will prompt regulatory authorities to allow wide use of the drug, but others are unsure of the findings.

Although the study shows an effect on cancer growth over one year, its long-term impact is still in doubt as is its benefit to all patients, after the Asian study found the drug worked best with specific patients.

Dr Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer, said: “I’d venture to say that additional studies will be requested in the United States population.”

An AstraZeneca spokeswoman said it is not planning a new push for expanded approval of the drug, but the company is continuing to share data about the drug with health officials.

The daily pill targets cancer more precisely rather than healthy cells, and can be more convenient for patients as it reduces the need to attend hospital for standard chemotherapy.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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