FDA Approves Treatment for Advanced Ovarian Cancer

Dec 19, 2016

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval to Rubraca (rucaparib) to treat women with a certain type of ovarian cancer. Rubraca is approved for women with advanced ovarian cancer who have been treated with two or more chemotherapies and whose tumors have a specific gene mutation (deleterious BRCA) as identified by an FDA-approved companion diagnostic test.

BRCA genes are involved with repairing damaged DNA and normally work to prevent tumor development. However, mutations of these genes may lead to certain cancers, including ovarian cancers. Rubraca is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor that blocks an enzyme involved in repairing damaged DNA. By blocking this enzyme, DNA inside the cancerous cells with damaged BRCA genes may be less likely to be repaired, leading to cell death and possibly a slow-down or stoppage of tumor growth.

The FDA also approved the FoundationFocus CDxBRCA companion diagnostic for use with Rubraca, which is the first next-generation-sequencing (NGS)-based companion diagnostic approved by the agency. The NGS test detects the presence of deleterious BRCA gene mutations in the tumor tissue of ovarian cancer patients. If one or more of the mutations are detected, the patient may be eligible for treatment with Rubraca.

The agency approved Rubraca under its accelerated approval program, which allows approval of a drug to treat a serious or life-threatening disease or condition based on clinical data showing the drug has an effect on a surrogate (substitute) endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit. The sponsor is continuing to study this drug in patients with advanced ovarian cancer who have BRCA gene mutations and in patients with other types of ovarian cancer.