FDA Approves New Drug for Advanced Ovarian Cancer

January 1, 2015

The FDA has approved olaparib, to be marketed under the name Lynparza, for the treatment of advanced ovarian cancer related to defective BRCA genes.

On December 19, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval of olaparib (Lynparza), a new drug treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer associated with defective BRCA genes, as detected by an FDA-approved test.

Olaparib is a poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor that blocks enzymes involved in repairing damaged DNA. The drug is intended for women with heavily pretreated ovarian cancer that is associated with defective BRCA genes.

“Today’s approval constitutes the first of a new class of drugs for treating ovarian cancer,” said Richard Pazdur, MD, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Lynparza is approved for patients with specific abnormalities in the BRCA gene and is an example of how a greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease can lead to targeted, more personalized treatment."

The FDA approved olaparib with a genetic test called BRACAnalysis CDx, a companion diagnostic that will detect the presence of mutations in the BRCA genes (gBRCAm) in blood samples from patients with ovarian cancer. The BRCA genes are involved with repairing damaged DNA and normally work to suppress tumor growth. Women with mutations resulting in defective BRCA genes are more likely to get ovarian cancer, and it is estimated that 10% to 15% of all ovarian cancer is associated with these hereditary BRCA mutations.

Serious side effects of olaparib include the development of myelodysplastic syndrome, a condition where the bone marrow is unable to produce enough functioning blood cells; acute myeloid leukemia; and lung inflammation.

The most common laboratory abnormalities were increased creatinine, mean corpuscular volume elevation, decreased hemoglobin, decreased lymphocytes and neutrophils, and decreased platelet levels.

Lynparza is marketed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, based in Wilmington, Delaware. BRACAnalysis CDx is manufactured by and performed at Salt Lake City, Utah-based Myriad Genetic Laboratories, Inc.

More detailed information about this approval is available here.