Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc., a company focused on medication management programs for people with complex chronic diseases, recently announced that IRESSA® (gefitinib), a recently approved drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will be offered as a first-line treatment for a specific type of metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
IRESSA (Gefitinib) is a type of treatment targeting the epidermal growth factor receptor-tyrosine kinase (EGFR-TK). Kinases are important proteins in the body that regulate how the cells grow and divide. IRESSA works by blocking (inhibiting) signals within the cancer cells that make them grow and divide. Blocking the signals causes the cells to die.
The drug is used as treatment for patients who have NSCLC tumours with EGFR mutations (exon 21 L858R substitution mutations or exon 19 deletions mutations).
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the United States. An estimated 158,040 Americans are expected to die from lung cancer in 2015, accounting for approximately 27 percent of all cancer deaths. NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. Mutations in the EGFR gene are present in about 10 percent of NSCLC tumors.
The EGFR is the cell-surface receptor for members of the epidermal growth factor family (EGF-family) of extracellular protein ligands. This protein is found in high levels in NSCLC cells. Patients with the EGFR mutation (positive or negative) can be identified with a diagnostic test using a sample of tumor tissue.
“We are excited to be able to offer select patients diagnosed with metastatic NSCLC another first-line treatment opportunity through IRESSA,” said in a press release Gary Kadlec, president of Diplomat. “IRESSA tablets can be taken with or without food, offering an important option to help meet patients’ needs.”