FDA may approve dozens of new drugs to treat malignancies like mesotheliomaEvery single drug that is used to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) has to be scrupulously tested for its safety and efficacy. Only when clinical trials have proved a chemotherapy agent useful can the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sign off on it, making it legal for all patients to receive.
In the interests of public health, this process is singularly rigorous and inflexible - but that doesn't mean it has to take forever. According to a new report released by Reuters, officials at the FDA expect to review the applications for at least 20 new drugs designed to treat mesothelioma and other malignancies.
More effective drugs often get faster approval
For the FDA, the other side of the public-health coin is speedy approval. After all, what good is a life-saving drug if it takes decades for critically ill patients to get access to it? For that reason, the agency occasionally tries to fast-track medications that pass clinical trials with flying colors.
According to Richard Pazdur, the head of the FDA's oncology products division, this accounts for why several cancer drugs were approved ahead of schedule last year.
The news source note that in 2011, 10 out of 30 newly approved medications were for cancer.
"There are a large number of drugs being developed in oncology," Pazdur explained, stating that his office expects to review 20 new anti-cancer drugs this year.
On the subject of approval speed, he was quite clear about what it takes: "It is much easier to approve drugs that have greater efficacy. Our staff is interested getting the drugs out earlier, [but] it has to be drug that we really think is important."
Safe, fast and (hopefully) plentiful
In addition to reviewing experimental chemotherapies quickly, the FDA hopes to makes make tried-and-true drugs increasingly available. That's because, as the agency recently noted, a number of critical chemo agents have been in short supply.
These include doxorubicin and methotrexate, two of the medications most commonly used to treat mesothelioma.
Because of these shortages, FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg recently promised that "through the collaborative work of FDA, industry and other stakeholders, patients and families waiting for these products or anxious about their availability should now be able to get the medication they need."
Between approved and experimental treatments for MPM, patients will hopefully have greater access than ever before to life-saving or -extending medications.
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Asbestos exposure led to death of Merchant Navy man, http://www.getbracknell.co.uk/news/s/2123312_former_merchant_navy_man_died_from_mesothelioma_after_inhaling_asbestos_fibres, 11/5/12
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Mesothelioma fundraiser celebrates third year, http://www.wowktv.com/story/19600262/putnam-woman-organizes-fundraiser-in-memory-of-father, 9/24/12
Charity 5k walk/run to raise money for mesothelioma research, http://www.theday.com/article/20120918/NWS01/120919658/1019&town=, 9/21/12
Family of five sisters to raise funds for mesothelioma charity, http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/Sisters-plan-family-fun-day-memory-father/story-16840190-detail/story.html, 9/20/12