WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration says it has approved a new form of a best-selling breast cancer drug that targets tumor cells while sparing healthy ones. It's for patients with HER2-positive, late-stage (metastatic) breast cancer.
The drug Kadcyla from Roche combines the established drug Herceptin with a powerful chemotherapy and a third chemical linking the medicines together. The chemical keeps the drugs intact until they bind to a cancer cell, where the double-shot of medication is released.
The FDA approved the new treatment for about 20 percent of breast cancer patients who have a particular form of the disease. These patients have tumors that overproduce a protein known as HER-2.
The approval will help Roche build on the success of Herceptin, which has long dominated the breast cancer marketplace. The drug had sales of roughly $6 billion last year.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. An estimated 232,340 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 39,620 will die from the disease in 2013, according to the National Cancer Institute.