Newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients can now have access to cancer delaying drug, Olaparib. Before this, only advanced ovarian cancer patients take Olaparib in later stages of treatment.

NICE, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence approved the use of cancer blocking drug, Olaparib, at the beginning of ovarian cancer treatment. With this approval, doctors can recommend this drug in much earlier stages of the procedure.

NICE shared this news on the 26th of July, 2019.

Use of Olaparib drug is approved in the US and Europe in advanced ovarian cancer stages to halt the progression of tumor and increase survival time. The US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved Olaparib for the treatment of BRCA mutated advanced ovarian cancer, and those ovarian cancer patients as well who had treated with three or more chemotherapies earlier. Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cause of cancer death in women from all around the world.

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According to the stats, in the United States, about 22,530 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2019. And about 13,980 ovarian cancer patients will lose their lives. While in the United Kingdom, about 7300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer annually, and about 4200 women die due to this cancer every year.

The use of Olaparib at the beginning of the treatment can change these numbers swiftly.

NICE approved this drug based on the promising results of the ongoing Solo-1 Trial. These results suggest that Olaparib can delay tumor progression, thus preventing cancer from metastasizing and increasing the survival time of the patients.

The research is showing overwhelmingly positive results, as the authors concluded,

“The use of maintenance therapy with olaparib provided a substantial benefit with regard to progression-free survival among women with newly diagnosed advanced ovarian cancer and a BRCA1/2 mutation, with a 70% lower risk of disease progression or death with olaparib than with placebo.”

How does Olaparib work?

Olaparib is a PARP inhibitor type of drug. Progression and multiplication of various kinds of cancer cells are dependent on the PARP (poly ADP ribose polymerase) enzyme.  Inhibiting the function of this enzyme with the help of PARP inhibitors drugs prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Olaparib used at advanced stages because it can stop the PARP protein from repairing the DNA of the cancer cells that get damaged through early chemotherapy treatment. Eventually, it causes the death of the cancer cells. Thus, this drug was used as the “maintenance therapy” to prohibit the progression of ovarian cancer after the first line of chemotherapy.

This drug can halt the progression of ovarian cancer for three years in the majority of the cases.

After this approval, newly diagnosed patients will be able to take this medicine twice a day. The Cancer Drugs Fund finances the availability and further research on this drug until 2023.

Who can benefit from this drug?

According to NICE, Olaparib is beneficial for adult patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer, and with BRCA gene mutation; and who also have responded to platinum-based chemotherapy. This development is an encouraging sign for these patients to increase their survival time, and delaying the chances of cancer progression.

Expected Results from Olaparib Treatment

Regarding the importance of Olaparib use in the early stages of ovarian cancer, the director of the NICE Centre for Health Technology Evaluation, Meindert Boysen said,

“The availability of olaparib tablets as maintenance therapy is an important development in the management of BRCA mutation-positive advanced ovarian cancer. Olaparib is already used for ovarian cancer but is expected to have the greatest benefit when used early, and is considered to have the potential to cure the disease in some people if given before the first recurrence. We are pleased that the company has agreed to a commercial arrangement for olaparib that will allow it to be made available immediately to people who currently have an unmet need for maintenance treatment.”

NHS Director of Specialised Commissioning, John Stewart regarded the use of Olaparib as a massive breakthrough in the ovarian cancer treatment saying,

“Olaparib has the potential to make a huge impact on the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer, giving patients a better chance of survival, and NHS England has worked closely with AstraZeneca and NICE to reach a deal that has clear benefits for those patients who would benefit, as well as industry and taxpayers. Providing the latest cutting-edge treatments for patients through innovative drug deals is just one way the NHS Long Term Plan will transform cancer care across the country, building on the thousands more lives already being saved thanks to improving treatment.”

According to NICE, about 700 advanced ovarian cancer patients will benefit from this drug.

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