Gleevec Approved for Use After Cancer Surgery

Drug first sanctioned in 2001

MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- Gleevec, a "miracle drug" in curing certain types of adult leukemia, has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to stop cancer growth after gastrointestinal cancer surgery.

According to an FDA news release, Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) can be used after removal of a gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). While this is a fairly rare form of cancer (5,000 - 6,000 new cases annually), the malignancy is particularly nasty because it can interfere with the flow of food and liquids through the intestines.

This latest approval "illustrates how the continued study of a once novel drug throughout its product lifecycle can yield new and important uses," Dr. Richard Pazdur, the FDA's director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the news release.

Gleevec, made by the pharmaceutical firm Novartis AG, was first approved by the FDA in 2001 to treat chronic myeloid leukemia.

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