FDA Approves Vaccine for Prostate Cancer

Provenge is first immunotherapy to gain approval
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 29, 2010 7:46 PM CDT
FDA Approves Vaccine for Prostate Cancer
Provenge will cost $93,000 a patient, says maker Dendreon.   (Shutterstock)

A first-of-a-kind prostate cancer treatment that uses the body's immune system to fight the disease received federal approval today, offering an important alternative to more taxing treatments like chemotherapy. Dendreon Corp.'s Provenge vaccine trains the immune system to fight tumors. It's called a "vaccine" even though it treats disease rather than prevents it. It's also costly, at $93,000 a patient.

Doctors have been trying to develop such a therapy for decades, and Provenge is the first to win approval from the FDA. Company studies showed that Provenge added a median 4 months to the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer, though some patients survived for years, notes WebMd. Medical specialists hailed the approval as an important milestone, but stressed it will serve as an addition to current medical practice, not a replacement. (More prostate cancer stories.)

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