New Breast Cancer Drug Extends Lives of Metastatic Patients

A new chemotherapy drug, called eribulin, extended survival by two and a half months in patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer whose cancers continued to progress despite treatment with numerous other drugs.

A new chemotherapy drug, called eribulin, extended survival by two and a half months in patients with locally recurrent or metastatic breast cancer whose cancers continued to progress despite treatment with numerous other drugs. The phase 3 study marks the first time a single agent has helped these patients live longer, said researchers.

Two-thirds of the 762 patients in the clinical trial received eribulin, a drug derived from a sea sponge, and the remaining third received another round of treatment chosen by their physician. Because no standard exists, researchers wanted the control arm to reflect real-life choices offered to these women.

Patients on eribulin lived a median of just over 13 months compared with 10.7 months for women in the treatment of physician’s choice of chemotherapy arm. The most common side effects of eribulin included fatigue, low white blood cell count, and peripheral neuropathy.

Eisai, the maker of eribulin, filed for approval of the drug in March for locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer that has been previously treated with at least two chemotherapy regimens. The Food and Drug Administration has since granted priority review for the application, meaning the agency will decide by September whether to approve the drug.