The lung cancer drug erlotinib (Tarceva) treats a certain type of non-small cell lung cancer. 10% to 30% of lung cancer cases fall into this category. In a randomized phase III clinical trial, erlotinib, in tablet form, was compared to the current best treatment; platinum-based doublet chemotherapy.
The trial measured and compared progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). The experimental drug performed significantly better in both measures. The median age of participants was 65, more than two out of three were women, and most had never smoked. There was tumor shrinkage in 65% of those taking erlotinib and 16% of those receiving chemotherapy.
This is another example of the power and efficiency of the clinical trials process. As a result of a clinical trial a new and improved treatment is now available.
Erlotinib is sold by Genentech as Tarceva. You can find more information on their website.
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(c) 2012 Tom Beer and Larry Axmaker