Genentech Melanoma Combo Gets FDA Approval

Nov 11, 2015

The U.S. FDA approved Cotellic (cobimetinib) to be used in combination with vemurafenib to treat advanced melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body or can’t be removed by surgery, and that has a certain type of abnormal gene (BRAF V600E or V600K mutation).

“As we continue to advance our knowledge of tumor biology, we have learned that cancer cells have a remarkable ability to adapt and become resistant to targeted therapies. Combining two or more treatments addressing different cancer-causing targets may help to address this challenge,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval provides a new targeted treatment that, when added to vemurafenib, demonstrates greater benefit than vemurafenib alone in patients with BRAF mutation-positive melanoma.”

Cotellic works by blocking the activity of an enzyme known as MEK, which is part of a larger signaling pathway. Cotellic prevents or slows cancer cell growth. Vemurafenib, marketed in the U.S. as Zelboraf, is a BRAF inhibitor that affects a different part of the same pathway and was approved in 2011 to treat patients with melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body or cannot be removed by surgery.

Cotellic was reviewed under the FDA’s priority review program that provides for an expedited six-month review of drugs that, at the time the application was submitted, have the potential to be a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness in the treatment of a serious condition. Cotellic also received orphan drug designation.

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