Data from a randomized clinical trial, reported on at ASCO 2012, show that patients with metastatic breast cancer did better with an older, now generic therapy than with two newer more expensive therapies.
Treatment with the older therapy called paclitaxel (or Taxol, its former brand name) plus targeted therapy Avastin, produced a progression-free survival of 10.6 months versus 9.2 months with newer therapy Abraxane, or 7.6 months with even newer therapy Ixempra.
Paclitaxel also was more tolerable than the others in that it caused less peripheral neuropathy (tingling of the nerves) than either of its two rivals. One of the clinical directors of the trial, Hope Rugo, MD, of the University of California at San Francisco, commented that neither Abraxane nor Ixempra was superior to weekly paclitaxel.
It must be noted that patients in this trial were metastatic and on their first-line therapy, that is they were previously untreated for metastatic cancer. Another trial pitting Abraxane head-on against paclitaxel as monotherapy or in later-line metastatic patients produced results showing superiority for Abraxane, according to Celgene, the manufacturer of Abraxane.
The findings from this study are considered significant because of the great cost savings for the healthcare system and patients in using paclitaxel compared to newer, branded agents.
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