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Serious Medicine. Extraordinary Care.

FDA Approved Drugs

The following drug has been approved since the year 2000 for the treatment of mesothelioma:

Alimta (pemetrexed disodium)

FDA approved February 2004

This drug is approved for use in combination with cisplatin for the treatment of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma-a rare type of cancer.

The effectiveness of Alimta was established in one randomized clinical trial comparing the effects of treatment with Alimta given with cisplatin to treatment with cisplatin alone. Patients receiving Alimta and cisplatin lived three months longer after randomization than patients given cisplatin alone (12 months vs. nine months). Alimta must be administered with vitamin B-12 and folic acid supplementation to decrease the incidence and severity of adverse effects.

The most common adverse reactions observed with use of Alimta are low white blood count, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, rash, and diarrhea. Patients and caregivers should be encouraged to report the onset of fever, chills, diarrhea, and mouth ulcers immediately, since these symptoms could be a sign of infection, resulting from bone marrow suppression by the drug.