USFDA approves Eli Lilly drug for thyroid, lung cancers

Lilly will price the drug to be sold under the brand name Retevmo at $20,600 for 30 days of treatment,

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Approved
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USFDA approves Eli Lilly drug for thyroid, lung cancers

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to treat lung and thyroid cancers driven by a specific genetic mutation that Eli Lilly and Co acquired with its 2019 purchase of Loxo Oncology.

The drug, selpercatinib, which works against cancers driven mutations of a gene known as RET, is part of a trend of treating cancer based on a patient’s genetics rather than where in the body the disease originated. RET mutations occur in about 2% of lung cancers, 10% to 20% of papillary thyroid cancers.

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Price of drug

Lilly will price the drug to be sold under the brand name Retevmo at $20,600 for 30 days of treatment, said Anne White, head of Lilly’s oncology division. The drug is designed to inhibit the mutated RET enzyme that drives cancer by triggering uncontrolled cancer cell growth. In clinical trials, it performed equally impressively regardless of where the cancer was located.

The approval marks the first big potential payoff for Lilly’s $8 billion bet on Loxo, a move Lilly hoped would bolster its presence in targeted cancer therapies and help offset patent losses of older big-selling drugs for diabetes and other conditions.

Lilly, however, faces unique challenges in launching the drug during the raging coronavirus epidemic in the United States, which will curtail its ability to make in-person sales calls with much of the country just emerging from severe travel restrictions to limit the spread of the virus and other parts still under stay-at-home restrictions.

(Reporting by Carl O’Donnell Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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