New Drug for Chemotherapy Side Effects

FDA Approves New Drug to Combat Nausea and Vomiting for Cancer Patients Getting Chemotherapy

March 26, 2003 -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the approval of a new drug called Emend (aprepitant), 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.

Emend 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.

"This new drug is important in the management of chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting. It should improve cancer patients' quality of life, as well as their ability to tolerate these treatments," stated Commissioner Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D.

In 2002, the American Cancer Society found that over 1,284,900 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the United States. Emend can reduce nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments used to treat cancers such as lung cancer, head and neck cancer, and some female cancers.

Emend is part of a three-drug therapy that works with other drugs to treat nausea and vomiting. It reduces nausea and vomiting in a new way by blocking receptors in the brain called NK1 receptors.