Prostate cancer patients may in the nearest future be able to decrease their daily dose of medicine and avoid side effects simply by taking the drug with food, rather than on an empty stomach.
The recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, also suggests that this approach could cut costs of an expensive cancer treatment by 75 percent.
Abiraterone acetate (Zytiga) a cancer drug was approved in 2011 for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer.
Zytiga is taken with prednisone to minimize the risk of side effects affecting the digestive system. it has remained the current standard medicine for the treatment of metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer.
However, the cost of Zytiga makes not easily affordable to patients. The recommended 1-month dose of Zytiga cost between $8,000–$11,000. Many people with prostate cancer afford Zytiga for 2–3 years due to its high cost.
Currently, it is recommended that people take four 250-milligram Zytiga pills when they wake up, but that they should not eat any food overnight or eat breakfast for at least 1 hour after taking the medicine.
According to study co-author Russell Szmuletwitz, who is an associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, IL, “This schedule is not only inconvenient for patients, it’s also wasteful, in several ways.”
A recent review of Zytiga in the New England Journal of Medicine hailed the drug for representing “a new standard of care for metastatic disease,” but the article’s authors also warned that the “duration and cost of treatment may influence clinical decision-making.”
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Prof. Szmuletwitz’s colleague Prof. Mark Ratain — who is the director of the Center for Personalized Therapeutics at the University of Chicago Medicine — believes that this $10,000-per-month cost of treatment represents “a textbook example of what we now call ‘financial toxicity.'”
“At least three quarters of this expensive drug is wasted,” continues Prof. Ratain. “It’s excreted and flushed away.”
The new research by: Profs. Szmulewitz and Ratain taking Zytica with food will bring about a better absorption and effect.
For Zytiga, this means that if the drug is taken with a 300-calorie meal, the person will absorb four to five times the amount of drug compared with if they had taken it with no food, as is currently clinically recommended.
If a person takes Zytiga with an 825-calorie meal, the absorption can be multiplied by a factor of 10.
According to the study, the researchers recruited 72 people with advanced prostate cancer. Half took 1,000 milligrams of Zytiga in the form of four pills every morning taken on an empty stomach, as is the current clinical recommendation.
The remaining participants took just one 250-milligram Zytiga pill with a low-fat breakfast.
The results revealed that participants taking the lower dose of Zytiga with a low-fat breakfast had comparable outcomes with the group taking the recommended dose. So, Zytiga seemed to work as well at controlling symptoms across both groups.
If the team’s results can now be validated in a larger study with more robust clinical endpoints, Prof. Szmulewitz believes that the data will “warrant consideration by prescribers, payers, and patients.”
Bear in mind that more studies are now needed to confirm the findings in this study. If you have prostate cancer, you must consult your doctor before making any changes to your medication.