The US Food and Drug Administration has approved the first drug made specifically to treat cancer in dogs.
Until now, all cancer drugs used in veterinary medicine were developed for use in humans and were not specifically approved for animals. Federal law allows veterinarians to administer cancer medicines and other human treatments under controlled circumstances.
The new drug, Palladia, manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health Inc., has been approved to treat a type of cancer that accounts for about one in five cases of canine skin tumours.
Canine cutaneous mast cell tumours - the cancer in question – can appear small and insignificant when dogs have them, but while some are easily removed, others can lead to life-threatening disease, according to the FDA.
Drug approval gives another treatment option
"This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine," said Bernadette Dunham, director of FDA's centre for veterinary medicine. "Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs," Dunham said.
"Today's approval offers dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, an option for treatment of their dog's cancer."
Palladia is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that works by killing tumour cells and cutting off blood supply to the tumour. Common side effects include diarrhoea, decrease or loss of appetite, lameness, weight loss and blood in the stool. – (Sapa, June 2009)
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