Food and Drug Administration Approves First New Mesothelioma Treatment in 16 Years

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave approval to the first new mesothelioma drug treatment combination for patients in the last 16 years. The drug combination, Opdivo (nivolumab) in combination with Yervoy (ipilimumab) are a first-line treatment for adults with malignant pleural mesothelioma that cannot be removed by surgery.

“Today’s approval of nivolumab plus ipilimumab provides a new treatment that has demonstrated an improvement in overall survival for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence and acting director of the Office of Oncologic Diseases in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “In 2004, FDA approved pemetrexed in combination with cisplatin for this indication, and now patients now have an important, additional treatment option after more than a decade with only one FDA-approved drug regimen.”

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a serious form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, and is caused by exposure to carcinogenic asbestos fibers. According to the FDA, about 20,000 Americans develop malignant pleural mesothelioma each year and accounts for most of the mesothelioma cases recorded. Furthermore, most of the patients diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma are not able to have their tumors operated on and this prognosis creates a generally poor survival rate.

According to the FDA, the drug therapy was evaluated on over 600 patients with untreated malignant pleural mesothelioma. Patients were given intravenous infusions of Opdivo every two weeks, along with intravenous infusions of Yervoy every six week, for up to two years. Treatment continued until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity or completion of two years.  Analysis of the resulting data showed that patients who received Opdivo in combination with Yervoy survived a median of 18.1 months, while patients who underwent chemotherapy survived a median of 14.1 months.

Although asbestos has been heavily regulated by federal laws since the mid 1970s, thousands of innocent people each year continue to receive a diagnosis of the disease each year. Asbestos was once commonly used in many industrial products, commercial applications, and military equipment because the mineral is extremely heat-resistant and able to be molded to fit a variety of needs.

Even before asbestos was regulated, asbestos companies knew of the health risks posed by workers and consumers coming into contact and breathing in asbestos fibers but chose not to provide warnings about such dangers. While nothing can undo the harm caused by a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis, the law gives victims and their family members the right to hold these negligent asbestos companies accountable in a court of law.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment.




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