You are here

Gleevec Indication Expanded for Use After Surgery to Remove Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors

Gleevec was originally granted accelerated approval for the treatment of advanced or metastatic GIST in 2002. In 2008 Gleevec received a subsequent accelerated approval for adjuvant use that is for the treatment of patients with GIST who had had potentially curative resection (surgical removal) of GIST tumors, but who were at increased risk for a recurrence. The accelerated approval program provides earlier patient access to promising new drugs while the confirmatory clinical trials are being conducted. Regular approval for the metastatic GIST indication was also granted in 2008.

GIST is a rare form of cancer that originates in cells found in the wall of the GI tract. These cells, known as interstitial cells of Cajal, are part of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates body processes such as food digestion. More than half of GISTs start in the stomach.

"The development of Gleevec over the past decade highlights the need to further study drugs after approval to truly characterize their benefits," said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Although originally approved in the metastatic disease setting, this subsequent trial has demonstrated that longer use of Gleevec can prolong patient's lives in earlier disease settings."

The label is being updated to include clinical data from a large randomized clinical study comparing 12 to 36 months of Gleevec. Thirty-six months of Gleevec significantly prolonged overall survival and the time a patient lived without the disease recurring, compared to those receiving 12 months of Gleevec. At 60 months, 92 percent of patients who received 36 months of Gleevec were alive compared to 82 percent of patients who received 12 months of Gleevec.

Gleevec is a pill that should be taken with a meal and a glass of water.

The most common side effects observed in patients receiving Gleevec include swelling (edema), nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, bone or muscle pain, diarrhea, rash, fatigue, and abdominal pain.

Gleevec was first approved by FDA in May 2001 to treat patients with advanced Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic myeloid leukemia, a blood and bone marrow disease linked to a genetic abnormality.

Gleevec is marketed by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. based in East Hanover, N.J.

Recent Headlines

Despite older, sicker patients, mortality rate fell by a third in 10 years
Study finds fewer than half of trials followed the law
WHO to meet tomorrow to decide on international public heath emergency declaration
Study of posted prices finds wild variations and missing data
Potential contamination could lead to supply chain disruptions
Declining lung cancer mortality helped fuel the progress
Kinase inhibitor targets tumors with a PDGFRA exon 18 mutation
Delayed surgery reduces benefits; premature surgery raises risks
Mortality nearly doubled when patients stopped using their drugs