Drug Name: Gemcitabine
Brand Name: Gemzar by Eli Lilly
FDA approval: 1998
Intended Use: Gemcitabine is an intravenous chemotherapy drug used in the treatment of many types of cancer including pancreas cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, bladder cancer, soft-tissue sarcoma and metastatic breast cancer. Gemcitabine is approved for use as a single-agent drug, as well as for use in combination with other chemotherapy drugs.
Treatment: Gemcitabine belongs to the family of drugs called antimetabolites. Antimetabolites are similar to substances within each cell. When antimetabolites are incorporated into the cellular metabolism, they cannot divide. Antimetabolites attack cells at specific phases in the cycle, preventing the spread of cancerous cells.
Gemcitabine and cisplatin, another chemotherapy drug, are often administered together for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer when surgery is not possible. This combination may be referred to as GemCis or GemCisplat.
GemCisplat is given in cycles of treatment, with each cycle typically taking three weeks. The patient will be given both the cisplatin and the gemcitabine on the first day of each cycle. The gemcitabine is then repeated on day 8 of the cycle. A rest period of 13 days follows.
Typically 46 cycles of treatment are given over a period of 34 months, comprising a course of treatment. There are alternative cycles and the doctor will determine the best treatment.
Side effects from gemcitabine include: flu-like symptoms, fever, fatigue, mild nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, skin rash and low blood counts. These will be monitored by your medical team during your treatments.
In the News:
- Gemzar sales for 2008 were $1.7 billion.Oncolytics Biotech(R) of Calgary reported on May 5, 2009 about clinical trial results of their cancer treatment drug Reolysin combined with gemcitabine. In a test of 10 patients they reported a 70% benefit rate, with half of the patients reporting a stable disease at completion.