Sunday, March 16, 2008


Iressa is a new drug that is still being investigated as a cancer treatment. It is sometimes called ZD 1839 or gefitinib. The drug is being developed by AstraZeneca. Iressa has been in the press before, when a number of small, early cancer trials announced their findings at a major international conference in the USA. Iressa is not yet licensed in the UK because it is still being tested in clinical trials.

A large trial called the ISEL trial has reported some results. This trial was looking into whether Iressa helps people with non small cell lung cancer live longer . Unfortunately, Iressa didn't seem to help lung cancer patients to live longer overall. But the drug company running the trial say that there were groups of patients who benefited more than others. We don't know exactly why that is as yet. It is likely that the research will continue to try to find out more.

The drug company that make Iressa were supplying it to patients with non small cell lung cancer on a compassionate basis (this means to help patients who have had all other types of treatment). But as of the 3rd October 2005, they stopped providing it to any new patients with non small cell lung cancer or head and neck cancer. This is partly because another similar drug, erlotinib or Tarceva, has just been licensed in Europe for non small cell lung cancer. And also because they need to do more research to find out who Iressa helps and why. They will continue to supply Iressa to anyone already taking it and who are getting benefit from it. They also say they will continue their research.

How it Works? (Source)

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