The Food and Drug Administration has given the green light to a new medication that targets tumor cells while leaving healthy cells untouched. The drug Kadcyla is made by Roche. It works in combination with the established medication Herceptin, a powerful chemotherapy drug and a third chemical linking the medicines to form a potent cocktail against breast tumors.
Dr. Lori Medeiros, medical director of the Rochester General Breast Center, said the new medication is part of a movement toward treatments more tailored toward particular types of cancer. She said Kadcyla is intended for women with metastatic breast cancer who are HER-2 positive. In clinical trials, Kadcyla delayed the progression of breast cancer by several months. Researchers reported last year that patients treated with the drug lived 9.6 months before death, compared to slightly more than six months for patients treated with two other standard drugs, Tykerb and Zeloda.
Kadcyla will carry a boxed warning from the FDA, alerting patients that the medication can cause liver toxicity, heart problems and potentially death. It is also not to be used by pregnant women as the drug can cause severe birth defects.