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FDA Grants “Orphan Status” to Drug That Could Treat Malignant Mesothelioma in Boston

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently granted orphan drug status to a Japanese company that is attempting to research a drug that could treat malignant mesothelioma in Boston.

Our Boston mesothelioma lawyers believe that the more research that is done on this fatal form of cancer, the better. Right now, some is known about this cancer, but not nearly enough.
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Some of what we do know:

  • Mesothelioma is an incurable form of cancer
  • It is caused by exposure to asbestos, a natural mineral
  • Asbestos was used in the United States from the early 20th Century to roughly 1991
  • It was primarily used in insulation and coating products to resist fire
  • When ingested, it attaches to major organs, causing the fatal cancer
  • A person can be exposed to asbestos and not feel symptoms for three to four decades
  • The median lifespan after diagnosis is 12 months

Unfortunately, what we don’t know right now is a cure. And because mesothelioma is generally diagnosed decades after exposure, the cancer is typically deeply rooted in a person by then, which means operations are highly dangerous. Many patients, too, are older, meaning that a major surgery increases risks as well.

But as pharmabiz.com reports, the FDA’s granting of orphan status to a Japanese drug company may soon help mesothelioma patients. Orphan status is designed to reward companies that are researching a drug that won’t be mass produced and used by millions of people. It gives the companies breaks on costs in order to use their money to do the research.

In this case, CBP501, a drug made by CanBas Co., a bio-pharmaceutical company in Japan, is designed to be used for treatment of patients with mesothelioma. The company reports it is in its late phase II development of the drug. It is designed to be used as a first-time treatment for patients with advanced malignant pleural mesothelioma who can’t have surgery.

The company reports that in 70 percent of all mesothelioma cases are plural mesothelioma diagnoses and that 80 percent of these patients were exposed to asbestos at one point in their lives. Because most patients don’t catch the cancer until its late stages, chemotherapy is the only treatment.

The company’s leaders believe they will be done with their current phase of research, which includes 63 patients, during the first half of 2012. The incentives of the FDA’s orphan status, the company says, will allow them to move quickly into its third phase of studies to try to find a cure for this deadly cancer.

While all drugs in testing aren’t ready for use, this is certainly encouraging news for mesothelioma patients throughout New England. They know that there are few treatment options that are available and work well in their fight against mesothelioma. A drug that can potentially cure this illness or fight back against it, making a person’s life longer, is certainly a lofty and well-placed goal.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman provides representation for victims exposed to asbestos who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston and throughout Massachusetts and New England. Call 1-877-617-5333 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

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