The FDA has approved Cyramza (ramucirumab) to treat patients with advanced stomach cancer or gastroesophageal junction adenocarcinoma, a form of cancer located in the region where the esophagus joins the stomach.
Stomach cancer forms in the tissues lining the stomach and mostly affects older adults. According to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 22,220 Americans will be diagnosed with stomach cancer and 10,990 will die from the disease, this year.
Cyramza is an angiogenesis inhibitor that blocks the blood supply to tumors. It is intended for patients whose cancer cannot be surgically removed (unresectable) or has spread (metastatic) after being treated with a fluoropyrimidine- or platinum-containing therapy.
“Although the rates of stomach cancer in the United States have decreased over the past 40 years, patients require new treatment options, particularly when they no longer respond to other therapies,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Cyramza is new treatment option that has demonstrated an ability to extend patients’ lives and slow tumor growth.”
Cyramza’s safety and effectiveness were evaluated in a clinical trial of 355 participants with unresectable or metastatic stomach or gastroesophageal junction cancer. Two-thirds of trial participants received Cyramza while the remaining participants received a placebo. The trial was designed to measure the length of time participants lived before death (overall survival).
Results showed participants treated with Cyramza experienced a median overall survival of 5.2 months compared to 3.8 months in participants receiving placebo. Additionally, participants who took Cyramza experienced a delay in tumor growth (progression-free survival) compared to participants who were given placebo. Results from a second clinical trial that evaluated the efficacy of Cyramza plus paclitaxel (another cancer drug) versus paclitaxel alone also showed an improvement in overall survival.
Common side effects experienced by Cyramza-treated participants during clinical testing include diarrhea and high blood pressure.
The FDA reviewed Cyramza under its priority review program, which provides an expedited review for drugs that have the potential, at the time the application was submitted, to be a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition. Cyramza was also granted orphan product designation because it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition.
Cyramza is marketed by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly.