Zytiga (abiraterone acetate), a kind of hormone therapy, has been added to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Essential Medicines List for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
Updated every two years since 1977, the publication focuses on recommendations for malignancies such as prostate cancer and other diseases, and is used by 150 countries to help develop their own local lists of essential medicine. It helps those countries prioritize affordable and widely available treatments and diagnostic tests.
The list adds 28 medicines for adults and 23 for children, and specifies new uses for 26 already-listed products. In all, 460 products are deemed essential for addressing key public health needs. Also updated was the List of Essential Diagnostics.
“While several new cancer treatments have been marketed in recent years, only a few deliver sufficient therapeutic benefits to be essential,” WHO said in a press release announcing the update. “The 12 medicines WHO added to the new Medicines List for five cancer therapies are regarded as the best in terms of survival rates to treat melanoma, lung, prostate, multiple myeloma, and leukemia cancers.”
Commercialized by Janssen, Zytiga is a type of hormone therapy that stops the body from producing male sex hormones, or androgens. It’s used in combination with the corticosteroid prednisone to treat newly diagnosed metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer (mHSPC) and mCRPC in asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic patients in whom androgen deprivation therapy has failed. It’s also for treatment of mCRPC in those whose disease has progressed during or after a Docetaxel-based chemotherapy regimen.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Zytiga in 2011 for patients with mCRPC who had received chemotherapy, and expanded the indication the following year. Last year, the agency approved tablets in combination with prednisone for metastatic high-risk castration-sensitive prostate cancer.
The therapy has been available in the European Union since 2011 for the treatment of both mCRPC and metastatic hormone-sensitive prostate cancer. Zytiga is approved in more than 100 countries, including Canada, Australia, Japan, and China.
The oral therapy works by blocking production of androgen in the testes, adrenal glands, and prostate cancer tumors. For patients with mCRPC, androgens help fuel the cancer tumor.
“The inclusion of abiraterone acetate in the WHO Essential Medicines List highlights the critical role that this treatment can play in improving the lives of patients living with mCRPC and their families,” Joaquin Casariego, Janssen therapeutic area lead oncology for Europe, Middle East & Africa, Janssen-Cilag S.A., said in a news release. “I am proud that we are working hard to impact survival and quality of life by developing and providing innovative medicines which are supported by the highest-quality scientific evidence.”