The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Portrazza (necitumumab) in combination with two forms of chemotherapy to treat patients with advanced (metastatic) squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have not previously received medication specifically for treating their advanced lung cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States, with an estimated 221,200 new diagnoses and 158,040 deaths in 2015. The most common type of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, is further divided into two main types named for the kinds of cells found in the cancer – squamous cell and non-squamous cell (which includes adenocarcinoma).
“Lung cancer tumors can be varied, so treatment options need to be tailored to the specific type of lung cancer in the patient,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval provides certain patients with squamous cell lung cancer a new option that may extend survival.”
Portrazza is a monoclonal antibody that blocks activity of EGFR, a protein commonly found on squamous NSCLC tumors.
The safety and efficacy of Portrazza were evaluated in a multicenter, randomized, open-label clinical study of 1,093 participants with advanced squamous NSCLC who received the chemotherapies gemcitabine and cisplatin with or without Portrazza. Those taking Portrazza plus gemcitabine and cisplatin lived longer on average (11.5 months) compared to those only taking gemcitabine and cisplatin (9.9 months). Portrazza was not found to be an effective treatment in patients with non-squamous NSCLC.
The most common side effects of Portrazza are skin rash and magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia), which can cause muscular weakness, seizure, irregular heartbeats and can be fatal. Portrazza includes a boxed warning to alert health care providers of serious risks of treatment with Portrazza, including cardiac arrest and sudden death, as well as hypomagnesemia.
Portrazza is marketed by Eli Lilly and Company, based in Indianapolis, Indiana.