The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved its first-ever cancer vaccine, ushering in a new era of cancer treatments.
Named Provenge, the drug targets prostate cancer; in clinical trials, it extended the lives of patients about four months compared with a placebo.
It's not a cure, nor is it a preventative vaccine like those administered for measles, hepatitis or, more recently, cervical cancer. But it is a therapeutic vaccine, meaning it boosts the patient's own immune system. It is used after prostate cancer has already been diagnosed.
Dozens of other vaccines are being developed for various types of cancer, but Provenge is the first to get the government's stamp of approval. It was initially denied three years ago, leading to protests from patients and investors. Provenge is custom-made for each patient. A patient's white blood cells are collected, and certain immune cells are separated out, the New York Times reports.
Current cancer treatments, including radiation, chemotherapy and even prostate removal, wreak havoc on the body. A drug that can tap into the body's natural defense system is an important alternative. It also has fewer side effects -- most patients who used Provenge reported fever, fatigue and pain. This is the first proof of principle and proof that immunotherapy works in general in cancer, which I think is a huge observation," said Dr. Philip Kantoff, an oncologist in Boston who led the drug's largest clinical trial.
Provenge is intended for men whose prostate cancer has spread throughout the body.
In 2009, an estimated 192,000 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed and about 27,000 men died from the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.
$93,000?! Until this price can come WAY down, this means nothing for the average American. However, it is definitely a good start and will pave a way for new vaccines to be approved.
@LtBiggs Welcome to the wonderful world of insurance. In the domain of cancer treatments and hospital bills in general, that isn't absurd. My father had 1.5 million dollars on health insurance on him, but again all that insurance didn't save him from a brain tumor.
It only extended the lives of patients for four months?
It takes a month to administer, when did the 4 months start.
How bad was the pain?
Is it worth $93 thousand for a four month extension of your life? I guess it depends on how bad the side effect of pain is.
Certainly a step in the right direction... the future of vaccines is something like this. Maybe even gene therapy to give us better immune systems, remembered reading something about bats carrying ebola in their systems and being just fine (90% fatality rate? higher?). Anyway allow it to recognize cancers and diseases, fight them at an increased power, cure autoimmune diseases, and organ rejection all in one blow. Humans will go extinct one day; that day is the day that genetically enhanced super humans replace them...
What a joke. A blatant way 4 big pharm 2 make more $. There r natural treatments that will extend life & quality @ a fraction of that cost w/ proven efficacy from mega doses of intravenous vitamin C 2 oxygen therapy. Since most natural treatments cant b patented tho they r chastized as antiquated & ineffective. How sad.
in mexico there's a company that's developed a cure for cervical cancer, with a 98% cure rate.
This is awesome news! Having had someone close to me die of cancer and watching doxorubicin chemo ("the red devil") cause more harm than the disease, I'm happy to see immune-boosting therapies take root. When I was researching alternative therapies, this was one that I found, and I know it didn't cost $93k!! Maybe more like $25k. It was only done in a few clinics and not under official approval.
MR RIGHT: mega dose (16g) of Vitamin C administered IV really did work!