January 15, 2009

Study: Some should not get cancer drug

Large numbers of patients with advanced colon cancer should not get some of the most advanced drug treatments, a medical society study recommends.

Patients whose tumors have certain mutations in a gene called KRAS should not receive drugs that include Erbitux, co-marketed in the United States by Eli Lilly & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., the American Society of Clinical Oncology study said.

The society also cited Amgen Inc.'s Vectibix.

KRAS provides instructions for making a protein involved in regulating cell division. When mutated, the gene can cause normal cells to become cancerous.

The study found that 192 of 540, or about 36 percent, of the patients studied did not benefit from the drugs because they had the mutation, the society said.