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FDA approves first cancer drug for dogs

June 3, 2009 |  2:45 pm


The first cancer drug created specifically for dogs has been approved by the FDA. The drug, manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's animal health wing, is called Palladia (toceranib phosphate) and was developed to treat canine cutaneous mast cell tumors.

Cutaneous mast cell tumors account for about 20% of skin cancer in dogs. Although some mast cell tumors can be surgically removed with relative ease, other cases have historically proven more difficult to treat, and the cancer has been known to spread to other parts of the body.  From the Associated Press:

"This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine," Bernadette Dunham, director of FDA's center for veterinary medicine, said in a statement Wednesday.

"Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs," Dunham said. "Today's approval offers dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, an option for treatment of their dog's cancer."

Palladia is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that works by killing tumor cells and cutting off blood supply to the tumor.

"At the completion of a Palladia clinical study, approximately 60% of dogs had their tumors disappear, shrink or stop growing," Dr. Cheryl London of Ohio State University's College of Veterinary Medicine, who worked with Pfizer in the development of the drug, said in a statement. "Also, we determined that dogs whose tumors responded to Palladia experienced an improved quality of life."

The drug will be available initially only through a small number of veterinary oncologists; it's expected to be more widely available beginning in early 2010, according to Reuters. It comes in pill form and is given every other day, generally for a period of several months or longer.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A veterinarian examines a chihuahua.  Credit: Shaun Walker/For The Times.

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