Six-month prostate cancer drug soon to be launched

By Katrina Megget

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Prostate cancer Pharmacology Testosterone

A six-month formulation of a prostate cancer drug will soon be
launched in 23 European countries following its successful approval

Eligard (leuprolide acetate) 45 mg six-month formulation was launched in Germany in March and will soon be available in 23 European countries following the implementation of this positive decision in each of the individual countries. The product will be the only six-month prostate cancer drug therapy available in Europe, according to the drug manufacturer QLT USA and European marketer MediGene. "The six-month formulation provides physicians with a new convenient option for patients with prostate cancer. Eligard sales have been strong recently and we believe that this new approval will help contribute to future product growth,"​ QLT president and chief executive Bob Butchofsky said in a statement. According to MediGene chief executive Peter Heinrich: "The six-month dosage of Eligard represents a further improvement in patient management. There has been tremendous response since the launch of the Eligard six-month formulation earlier this year in Germany. We are now glad that we can offer this six-month dosage to patients across Europe." ​ The drug is delivered by subcutaneous injection, where it forms a gel-like deposit and secretes the active ingredient over the six-month period as the implant is bioabsorbed. The technique uses QLT USA's Atrigel drug delivery platform, intended for the extended-release of drug therapies. The platform consists of biodegradable polymers dissolved in biocompatible carriers. Active ingredients can be blended into the system at the time of manufacturing or added later at the time of use by a physician. The system can deliver small molecules, peptides or proteins of a time period ranging from days to months. Once injected, the drug forms a subcutaneous gel-like deposit and the active ingredient is secreted at the desired rate. Eligard is already approved in Germany and other European countries for the one-month (7.5 mg) and three-month (22.5 mg) formulations. Eligard is for the treatment of patients suffering from advanced, hormone-dependent prostate cancer, and is an LH-RH (luteinising hormone-releasing hormone) agonist. The drug works by suppressing tumour growth by reducing testosterone levels in the body by reducing testosterone production in the testicles. The six-month dose has been available in the US since 2005, and now represents half of all Eligard sales in the country. Worldwide sales of the drug totalled $120.7m in 2006. According to QLT, the worldwide market for prostate cancer treatments is estimated at $1.5bn (€1.1bn). A trademark of Sanofi-Aventis, Eligard is manufactured by QLT USA, from who MediGene acquired the licence for European commercialisation of the product in 2001.

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