Canada first to approve non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma drug

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A more effective treatment has recently been approved by Health Canada for low-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL)! Fludara, with a very favourable safety profile, will be another weapon to combat NHL, one of the fastest growing cancers worldwide that affects about 30,000 Canadians each year.

For decades, standard treatment for NHL has been chemotherapy and/or radiation. With these treatments, patients often endured side-effects like hair loss, nausea and vomiting and fatigue.

“With Fludara, NHL patients have a more effective treatment option with fewer side-effects,” said Dr. Peter Anglin, a medical oncologist at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga, Ontario. “Each administration lasts about 30 minutes and hospitalization is not required,” added Dr. Anglin.

In a pivotal 19-centre Canadian study for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) patients that compared Fludara with a standard three-drug cocktail called CVP (cyclophosphamide, vincristine, prednisone), results showed that Fludara-treated patients were put into remission longer, were free from additional treatment longer than CVP-treated patients, had a lower incidence of hair loss and experienced much less nausea and vomiting.

According to Dr. Anglin, Fludara increases the progression-free survival allowing patients to be free from tumour growth for a longer period of time.

“Any treatment that benefits NHL patients is a win-win situation, especially since NHL is among the world’s fastest growing cancers,” said Deborah Sterritt, president, Lymphoma Foundation Canada.

“When you consider that every 3 1/2 hours a Canadian life is lost to NHL, the more treatment options a patient has, the better,” added Sterritt.

Fludara(r) is already a treatment mainstay for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of leukemia in the western world.

Fludara has a very favourable safety profile. Although some patients may experience nausea or vomiting, it is often mild and transient. Hair-loss, as a result of Fludara therapy, is rare.

Fludara (fludarabine phosphate) was developed by Berlex in cooperation with the U.S. National Cancer Institute. In Canada, Fludara is in the throes of celebrating its 10th anniversary and has been used in over 5,000 Canadian patients.