United States of America - The Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) has announced the approval of a new drug called aprepitant (Emend®), to be used in combination with other anti-nausea and anti-vomiting drugs for prevention of acute and delayed nausea and vomiting associated with initial and repeat courses of chemotherapy known to cause these problems, including high-dose cisplatin.
Aprepitant is the first FDA approved treatment that prevents the delayed nausea and vomiting symptoms that many patients experience greater than 24 hours after receiving chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is often very distressing for cancer patients due to severe nausea and vomiting. These symptoms can be severely debilitating, often resulting in patients’ refusing further courses of chemotherapy or in serious limitations on their lifestyle.
In 2002, the American Cancer Society found that over 1 284 900 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States. Aprepitant can reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments used to treat cancers such as lung cancer, head and neck cancer, and some female cancers. It is part of a three-drug therapy that works with other drugs to treat nausea and vomiting in a new way by blocking NK1 receptors in the brain. Approval was based on the results of two well-controlled studies that included over 1000 cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.
Aprepitant may interact with other drugs, including some chemotherapies, birth control pills, and blood thinners. It may reduce the effectiveness of oral contraceptives and women should use an alternative form of birth control. Patients being treated with blood thinners such as warfarin and Coumadin® will need to have their blood tested after the completion of their 3-day regimen with each chemotherapy cycle to see if dosage needs to be changed.
Reference; FDA News, P02 - 23 (2003).