Thursday, June 12, 2008

Old Drug, New (Cancerous) Horizons

Competition, they say, is one of the reasons for innovation and development. So long as one group isn’t trying to sabotage the other and is legitimately working on their project, things should go fine. This has been applied to everything from business to weapons development, and it has worked. So really, you and I should not be shocked to learn that something like this is going on in the twisted little world we know as medicinal research. The way most pharmaceutical and medical research companies go about their business is highly driven by competition – the urge to get the product out and start raking in the profits for it. Only in rare situations will the competitive nature of the game actually make two companies meet in battle at one of the biggest cancer conferences in the world and both leave standing tall.

Incidentally, this is also good news for cancer patients.

You see, data presented at the aforementioned conference is predicted to boost the sales of a drug called Erbitux. The drug, developed and sold by ImClone Systems, is expected to see increased use as an initial medication for patients that have advanced cases of lung and colorectal cancers, thanks to this data. However, others believe that this increase in revenue might come at the cost of the drug Avastin. Avastin, made by a company known as Genentech, has long been used as the frontline pharmaceutical treatment for the cancers previously mentioned. Still, most analysts of the industry and the doctors working the hospitals believe that the growth of one drug does not necessarily have to be the thing that kills the other.

Supposedly, the view these doctors have is that the data doesn’t hold enough clinical merit to take market share away from the established Avastin.

Both of these medications were designed to target a specific type of therapy. They’re supposed to help in blocking the mechanisms that are responsible for the growth of the cells in a tumor. Avastin has long been seen as the primary medication of this type, with more than double the sales of its closest rival, Erbitux. Still, the two drugs do have a number of differences that kept them largely away from each other’s market shares. Avastin, if I’m recalling this right, was used in advanced colorectal cancer – with some patient using it for lung and breast cancer, too. Erbitux, up until now, was approved for use as a treatment for colon cancer of the last resort variety – which means that it could only be given to a patient if all else fails. Head and neck cancer are not alien to the drug, either.

Still, the information does prove interesting to look at. Data showed that patients with certain genetic triggers and mutations in their tumors did not react to Erbitux. Most of the patients don’t have the mutation in their tumors, and they showed remarkable levels of improvement in their colorectal cancer after being given the drug. Regulators in Europe are considering approving it, but only for patients that don’t have mutant tumors rampantly growing inside them.

Resource Box : Harvey Ong is a part-time researcher, with special interest in the occult, medical anomalies, herbal lore, and psychology. He is also employed as a writer- researcher, researching and writing articles about a variety of pain killers, muscle relaxants, sexual health medications, and psychoactive drugs.

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