Eisai has launched its thyroid cancer treatment Lenvima in the UK shortly after it was granted European Commission approval.
The drug has been developed to treat adult patients with progressive locally advanced or metastatic, differentiated (papillary, follicular, Hurthle cell) thyroid carcinoma, refractory to radioactive iodine.
It works by simultaneously inhibiting the activities of several different molecules, including vascular endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR), fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR), RET, KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR).
Lenvatinib could be the first tyrosine kinase inhibitor that simultaneously inhibits the kinase activities of FGFR 1-4 as well as VEGFR 1-3. It is also distinguished from existing compounds by exhibiting a unique Type V binding mode of kinase inhibition.
The drug demonstrates significantly prolonged progression-free survival (PFS) in RAI refractory DTC versus placebo, along with a median time to first objective response of two months.
Lenvatinib's availability marks a significant advance for UK patients, as advanced thyroid cancer is a difficult condition to treat, with a poor prognosis for those affected.
Gary Hendler, president and chief executive officer at Eisai EMEA, said: "The launch of Lenvima represents great news for both Eisai and for patients who will now have access to this significant new treatment.
"Lenvima is a drug that was developed in the UK, will be manufactured in the UK and has now been launched first in the UK, something we at Eisai are very proud of."
Thyroid cancer has become more common in the UK during the past few decades and there are approximately 2,800 new cases in the UK each year. Women are affected more than men, at a ratio of 2:1.
There are approximately 250 people in the UK living with RAI refractory DTC, experts estimate.