|ERBITUX APPLICATION & MARKET
Erbitux (cetuximab) has been approved for sale in Canada recently. It
was approved by US FDA to treat patients with advanced colorectal
cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. Erbitux is the first
monoclonal antibody approved to treat this type of cancer and is
indicated as a combination treatment to be given intravenously with
irinotecan, or alone if patients cannot tolerate irinotecan.
Erbitux is a genetically engineered version of a mouse antibody
containing both human and mouse components. It can be produced in
large quantities in the laboratory. This new monoclonal antibody is
believed to work by targeting a natural protein called "epidermal
growth factor receptor" (EGFR) on the surface of cancer cells,
interfering with their growth.
For patients with tumors that express EGFR, the combination
treatment of Erbitux and irinotecan shrank tumors in 22.9% of patients
and delayed tumor growth by approximately 4.1 months. For patients
who received Erbitux alone, the tumor response rate was 10.8% and
tumor growth was delayed by 1.5 months.
Erbitus has fewer side effects than standard chemotherapy. During
the administration of the first treatment, Erbitux may cause difficulty
breathing and low blood pressure. Infrequent interstitial lung disease
has been reported; but, it is not sure if Erbitux caused the disease.
Infrequent interstitial lung disease occurs when the lung becomes stiff
due to scarring of the tissue between the air sacs of the lungs.
Other more common side-effects of Erbitux treatment include
acne-like rash, dry skin, tiredness or weakness, fever, constipation,
and abdominal pain.
About Colorectal cancer
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting men and
women in the U.S. and, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC). Colorectal cancer is also one of the most
commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.; approximately 147,500 new
cases were diagnosed in 2003.
In Canadia, more than 19,000 people are diagnosed with colon
cancer every year, and for half of them the disease has spread to
other organs by the time they receive the diagnosis.
Sales of Erbitux totaled $97.8 million, up 37 percent from a year ago
(2004) and 12 percent from the first quarter. ImClone Â¡X which
receives royalty payments on U.S. sales of the drug from
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Â¡X saw $38.1 million from these sales, up
from about $34 million in the first quarter. The drug was approved last
This drug may generate a huge revenue, if the manufacturer wins
expanded approval for treating other cancers, such as head and neck
cancers, and win approval to sell it in more countries.Currently, this
drug costs about $10,000 a month.
Reference Erbitux (cetuximab) , FDA web-site, August 9, 2005
Imclon's Erbitux Approved in Canada for Colon Cancer (Update3),
Bloomberg.com, September 18, 2005.
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