The United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved what could be considered a breakthrough drug in the treatment of some cancers. It's called Vitrakvi. The drug is designed to fight a specific genetic mutation in some forms of cancer. It comes in an easy to take capsule or in liquid form.
"It'll have a big impact on cancer care in general. Not just here, but across the globe," said Emily Pauli, the Director of Research at the Clearview Cancer Institute in Huntsville.
WAAY 31 did some digging to find out what makes this new cancer drug special and how it will impact patients here in the Tennessee Valley.
For some cancer patients, bandanas could be a thing of the past with this new drug because of how it works. Its success was fast tracked by the FDA, which Pauli said makes it special, "There are not a lot of drugs that get fast tracked approval."
The drug targets types of cancers that cause tumors, "Lung cancer, thyroid cancer, things like this. Things that occur in your solid organs. Not in your blood cancers," said Pauli.
Pauli cited research showing 75 percent of people respond to the drug positively with 39 percent of people still seeing the drug work after a year, "Which is huge in oncology," said Pauli.
Because this new drug is a pill, that means fewer people could be coming to oncology wards to take an IV of drugs for eight hours. It could also mean they experience less negative symptoms. "We're not seeing as much hair loss with some of these targeted molecules. Patients may still experience some nausea," said Pauli.
The drug is expensive. For adults, it is roughly $32,000 a month. For the liquid version for kids it is $11,000 a month, "That's very much on par with a lot of the oncology drugs that we see," said Pauli.
Clearview Cancer Institute told WAAY 31 the drug is still a couple of months away from going into full circulation, because it still needs to be manufactured on a large scale. If you're a patient in the Tennessee Valley, or across the globe, you could start using it some time in January or February.