Questions and Answers on Iressa (gefitinib)

On June 17, 2005 the The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved new labeling for gefitinib (Iressa) that limits use to patients with cancer who in the opinion of their treating physician, are currently benefiting, or have previously benefited, from Iressa treatment. In addition, AstraZeneca will distribute the drug under the Iressa Access Program. For more, please read the "Questions and Answers on Iressa's (gefitinib) New Labeling" article.


Iressa (gefitinib) is a groundbreaking new type of anti-cancer drug for people with the most common type of lung cancer. It is different from all prior chemotherapy. That is, Iressa works by uniquely blocking cellular enzymes that stimulate cell growth. So, in the future, look for the emergence of other (hopefully more effective) anti-cancer drugs that work at specific cellular or molecular sites.

With this approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), patients having advanced lung cancer that is unresponsive to standard treatment now will have at least some treatment available to them. Credit the FDA for the relatively rapid availability of this drug. You see, Iressa was approved under the FDA's accelerated approval program. This program provides patients with serious disease earlier access to promising new drugs.

Leslie J. Schoenfield, M.D., Ph.D.
Medical Editor, MedicineNet.com


1. What is Iressa and how does it work?

Iressa is a new anticancer drug that inhibits an enzyme (tyrosine kinase) present in lung cancer cells, as well as other cancers and normal tissues, that appears to be important to the growth of cancer cells. The active ingredient in Iressa is gefitibib.