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Alert Number 266

Treanda: A Facelift for Bendamustine

Date: December 13, 2007

I have heard from dozens of patients asking about the “new” drug Treanda. There has been a lot of buzz about this drug in the past several months, and the latest press releases by the company Cephalon, Inc. after ASH 2007 conference has increased the decibel level in mainstream media. For starters, Treanda is not a new drug, quite the contrary. It is the new trade name for an old drug, developed a few decades ago in Easter Europe, and called by the much less sexy name of bendamustine. Bendamustine has been used (more so in Europe) for a variety of solid cancers, lymphomas, and even CLL in recent years.

Cephalon is trying to get FDA approval for Treanda as frontline therapy for chemo naïve CLL patients. It already has “orphan drug status”, which gives this old drug 7 year exclusivity protection from competition. I was hoping that the presentations at ASH would have more details, give me real “meat” to chew on before writing my article. That is not to be. Typically, when results of pivotal, large scale, and multi-center phase-3 trials are made public, they get center court attention – a full length oral presentation at ASH, giving all the experts in the audience a chance to see the data up close and personal, ask questions, etc. Not so here. Cephalon disclosed their results in a mere single poster presentation and in keeping with this mode of disclosure, the details are sketchy. We can only hope that this poster will be backed up by full length articles in peer-reviewed professional journals.

Nevertheless, given the level of interest and the possibility that Treanda may get that coveted FDA approval for frontline treatment of CLL, I could not wait any longer before writing my review of this drug and its possible value for our patient community. I think you will find this article interesting. In addition to reviewing the available information on Treanda, I think it also gives a window into the workings of pharmaceutical companies as they go about their business.

"Treanda" - A Facelift For Bendamustine

Be well,

Chaya
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