Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Font Size

FDA Approves Prostate Cancer Drug

Zytiga Fights Treatment-Resistant Prostate Cancer
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 28, 2011 -- The FDA has approved the Johnson & Johnson pill Zytiga for use in combination with the steroid prednisone to treat a certain type of late-stage prostate cancer in men who have already been treated with chemotherapy.

The medication is to be used to treat patients with metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer.

In men with prostate cancer,  the male sex hormone testosterone stimulates the tumor to grow.

The FDA says in a statement that drugs or surgery are used to reduce testosterone production or block the effects of testosterone, but that prostate cancer sometimes continues to grow, even when testosterone levels are low. Men with such cancers are said to have castration-resistant prostate cancer.

What Zytiga Does

Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) targets a protein called CYP17A1, which the FDA says plays a key role in the production of testosterone.

The agency says the drug works by decreasing the production of testosterone that stimulates cancer cells to keep growing.

The application for approval of the pill, made by the Johnson & Johnson unit Centocor Ortho Biotech, was considered under the FDA’s priority review process. The FDA says that process provides for an expedited six-month review for drugs that are believed to offer major advances in treatment or which provide a treatment when no adequate therapy exists.

Zytiga Prolongs Life

“Zytiga prolonged the lives of men with late-stage prostate cancer who had received prior treatments and had few available therapeutic options,” Richard Pazdur, MD, director of the FDA’s Office of Oncology Drug Products, says in the agency’s news release.

The FDA says the drug’s safety and effectiveness were established in a clinical study involving 1,195 patients with late-stage castration-resistant prostate cancer who had received treatment with docetaxel chemotherapy.

Patients in the study received either Zytiga once daily in combination with prednisone two times per day, or a placebo twice daily in combination with prednisone.

Patients who received the Zytiga and prednisone combo had a median overall survival of 14.8 months, compared to 10.9 months for those in the group taking the placebo-prednisone combination.

Side Effects

Commonly reported side effects of Zytiga included joint swelling or discomfort, low levels of potassium in the blood, fluid retention, usually in the legs and feet, muscle discomfort, hot flashes, diarrhea, and urinary tract infection.

Other side effects included cough, high blood pressure, heartbeat disorders, urinary frequency, increased nighttime urination, upset stomach or indigestion, and upper respiratory tract infection.

Centocor, based in Horsham, Pa., says in a statement that the FDA’s approval of Zytiga represents a step forward in the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.

“As a clinician, I believe the efficacy and safety profile of abiraterone acetate, as well as its oral, once-daily formulation, will help address the important need for additional therapeutic choices for men living with this serious disease,” Howard Scher, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, says in the company’s news release.

Today on WebMD

man with doctor
Symptoms, risks, treatments
man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore
 
prostate cancer cells
What does this diagnosis mean?
doctor and male patient
Is it worth it?
 
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
15 Cancer Symptoms Men Ignore
FEATURE
 
Prostate Enlarged
VIDEO
Picture Of The Prostate
ANATOMY
 
Prostate Cancer Quiz
QUIZ
screening tests for men
SLIDESHOW
 
Prostate Cancer Symptoms
VIDEO
Vitamin D
SLIDESHOW