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FDA Approves Drug for Advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

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The chemotherapy drug Alimta can be used as a maintenance treatment for advanced cases of non-small cell lung cancer, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Monday. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common form of the disease.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said the drug will be used after an initial round of chemotherapy to prevent disease progression, the Associated Press reported.

The FDA's approval of this new use of Alimta was based on a study of 600 patients.

"This drug represents a new approach in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer," Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a news release. "Typically, patients whose tumors respond to chemotherapy do not receive further treatment after four-to-six chemotherapy cycles. This study demonstrates an advantage in overall survival in certain patients who received Alimta for maintenance therapy."

Alimta (pemetrexed) was introduced in 2004 and was already approved for use alone or in combination with other chemotherapies to treat two other types of advanced lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure, the AP reported.

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