Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Side effects and oncology drugs

The FDA is expecting to receive 20 new  applications for oncology drugs this year which is an increase. While 20 doesn't seem like a very big number, in some ways it is. It is nice to see progress in the treatment of cancer especially as an understanding of its molecular make up grows. Last  year the FDA approved 30 drugs, 10 for oncology.

But this is what gets me:

"Oncology drugs are unique in that the regulatory emphasis is on effectiveness rather than safety because patients are often so gravely ill."

Yep. Safety isn't as important. If the disease doesn't kill us the treatment might.

Look at Robin Roberts and her new diagnosis of MDS or pre-leukemia. She was treated with Doxorubicin (Adriamycin). According to ChemoCare.com:
"There is a slight risk of developing a blood cancer such as leukemia years after taking Doxorubicin."

I have another friend who developed leukemia after chemo for breast cancer. She had a stem cell transplant and has been okay for a few years.
It seems to be fairly standard that stage IV cancer patients have CT scans every three months or so. Most patients are told to avoid frequent CT scans due to the amount of radiation received. Cancer patients are put in the category of the 'we can stop the disease from killing you but the treatment might get you in the end'. How reassuring.

1 comment:

ButDoctorIHatePink said...

My doctor laughed once when the insurance company delayed a scan (it was within the three month timeline). The radiation from the scan is hardly as deadly as my metastatic cancer. :)

Good news on the 20 new drugs. I know TDM1 is one of them, and that has proven quite effective for some. I may need it myself.