FDA Approves Drug for Previously Treated Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients

According to an article from Global Banking & Financing Review, the California-based pharmaceutical company Exelixis, Inc. has announced the FDA’s approval of their drug Cabometyx (cabozantinib) for patients previously diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma and treated with sorafenib, a chemotherapy drug.

About Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of liver cancer, and it’s highly aggressive. HCC is the fastest-growing cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.

Treating HCC effectively is, like many cancers, astoundingly difficult. Typically, treatment will involve the administration of sorafenib, a chemotherapy drug. However, the number of available treatments is low, especially once sorafenib has already been administered. Experts are searching continuously for ways to improve the quality of life and life expectancy of HCC patients, and Exelixis’ drug Cabometyx represents the continued hunt for treatment.

About Cabometyx

In trials, Cabometyx showed an ability to improve patients’ overall survival rate when compared against a placebo control. Patients in the study treated with Cabometyx had a median overall survival (of 10.2 months) two months greater than that of the placebo group (8 months).

These are the promising results that led the Food and Drug Administration to approve the drug, sold in tablet form, for market in the United States. Further study of the drug is ongoing, with additional phase III trials beginning last month. These new trials will attempt to discern whether Carbometyx is effective at treating previously untreated HCC when combined with atezolizumab (a different chemotherapy drug).

The exciting news is due some tempering, however. Cabometyx, like many of the high-strength drugs required by aggressive forms of cancer, has a certain amount of inherent risk in the form of its side effects. Nausea, fatigue, weakness, and dozens of other side effects have been reported while taking Cabometyx – 16% of patients in the original phase III trial discontinued treatment due to adverse effects from taking Cabometyx.

Doubtlessly though, the approval marks an important step in the treatment of advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. The growing number of Americans with HCC is due in no small part due to the cancer’s aggression and the difficulties associated with its treatment, and physicians are rightfully concerned about the national explosion. Cabometyx’s ability to offer some patients just a few more months of life signifies a major accomplishment in its own right, while providing magnitudes more hope for future development.


Cabometyx has successfully given advanced HCC patients, on average, several more months of life. What does this breakthrough news mean to you? Share your story with Patient Worthy!

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