New breast cancer drug on the way

Helen Palmer Mar 14, 2007

TEXT OF STORY

SCOTT JAGOW: The world’s second-biggest drug maker, GlaxoSmithKline, just got some good news. The FDA approved the company’s new breast cancer drug, Tykerb. As Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH, this is good news for women too.

HELEN PALMER: Tykerb’s been approved for aggressive late-stage breast cancer. In trials it doubled the length of time the disease was kept in check.

Len Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society:

LEN LICHTENFELD: It’s also exciting because it gives women with a particular type of breast cancer another treatment option that’s effective where they didn’t have that option before.

Lichtenfeld says Tykerb has another plus: It’s a pill you swallow. Most cancer drugs have to be injected.

Glaxo scientists think Tykerb could fight other cancers as well. Trials are already underway.

Glaxo hasn’t named a price, but analysts say the drug will cost around $40,000 a year. That’s about the same as other smart cancer drugs.

Tykerb is expected to be a blockbuster, worth as much as $2.5 billion by 2010.

In Boston, I’m Helen Palmer for Marketplace.

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