FDA expands use of Pfizer drug for rare form of lung cancer

The Food and Drug Administration expanded approval of a Pfizer drug to treat a small subset of lung cancer patients with a rare mutation.

The agency says Xalkori capsules are now approved for patients with the ROS-1 gene mutation, who make up about 1 percent of U.S. patients with non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease.

The twice-a-day drug is part of a new wave of medications that fight disease by targeting specific genes found in certain patients. It was initially approved in 2011 for another subset of lung cancer patients who have a gene that stimulates tumor growth.

The drug blocks certain proteins found in tumors with genetic mutations, with the aim of slowing cancer spread.

Xalkori posted sales of $438 million in 2014.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.