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AstraZeneca thyroid cancer drug gets EU approval

UK pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca has been given a boost by European drug regulators who have approved its vandetanib drug as a potential trea...

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|Nov 18|magazine6 min read

UK pharmaceutical manufacturer AstraZeneca has been given a boost by European drug regulators who have approved its vandetanib drug as a potential treatment for thyroid cancer.

Vandetanib, also sold and marketed under the brand name Caprelsa, has a turbulent past few years and AstraZeneca will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief at its approval.

The drug will treat medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) tumours which are not suitable for surgical removal and have spread to other areas of the body.

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Approval of the drug came after the regulators reviewed the Phase III clinical trial data, which revealed using Caprelsa reduces the risk of the disease progressing by 54 percent by preventing blood from flowing to tumours and inhibiting their growth.  

At the moment there are no approved treatments for MTC in Europe.

When Caprelsa first emerged on the pharmaceutical scene it was tipped to be a blockbuster drug and was estimated to be worth $1billion to the company.

However, the drug hit a stumbling block when, in clinical trials, it was unable to extend the lives of cancer sufferers.

Pharmaceutical industry experts are now predicting the drug will not prove to be a blockbuster for AstraZenca, as it is targeted at a niche market as MTC affects only four percent of thyroid cancer sufferers.

Forecasts published on Thomson Reuters Pharma have estimated in five years time, by 2016, sales of Caprelsa will reach $112million, a far cry from its original £1billion estimations.

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