Advanced breast cancer patients in China now have another treatment option other than chemotherapy to choose from following the approval of a new oral drug called Ibarnce by the China Food and Drug Administration.
Developed by US-based pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Ibarnce is presently available to patients in 35 Chinese cities.
According to Dennis Slamon, one of the lead scientists in the development of Ibarnce who visited Shanghai in October, the consumption of the pill does not have severe side effects like chemotherapy such as hair loss, nausea and vomiting.
Breast cancer is ranked as the most common form of cancer in women in China. According to the 2017 China Cancer Registration Annual Report released by the National Cancer Center, there are about 280,000 new cases each year.
The report also showed that about one-tenth of patients already suffer from advanced breast cancer when diagnosed, while about one-third of those who detect the condition early and have undergone surgery or standardized treatment will still develop advanced breast cancer. The five-year survival rate of advanced breast cancer is only about 20 percent.
Slamon said he hopes the drug, which can effectively stop cancer cells from proliferating, can bring more hope to Chinese patients as it has done in the US, where it was approved in 2015. The scientist also hopes that the availability of this new drug in China might inspire Chinese physicians to come up with different treatment combinations.
“Ibarnce is probably the first drug of targeted therapy that is able to postpone drug resistance happening to patients after they receive endocrine therapies,” said Xu Binghe, head of internal medicine at the Cancer Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing.
The drug is also being tested in early breast cancer, according to Slamon, who added that China is included in its worldwide clinical trials.
Pfizer is also collaborating with major university centers in Dalian, Liaoning province, Beijing and Shanghai in the research and development of treatments for early breast cancer patients, said Slamon.