Patients with metastatic melanoma received encouraging news on May 29, 2013 with the FDA approval of two new treatments. Dabrafenib, known as the brand name Tafinlar and Trametinib, known as the brand name Mekinist were both approved at the end of May to treat metastatic or unresectable melanoma. While both of these powerhouse medications Dabrafenib and Trametinib, marketed by GlaxoSmithKline are approved as stand-alone treatments, the use of these products adjunctively has shown greater efficacy for some patients. The initial approval of Dabrafenib followed positive results from a trial of 250 patients with inoperable melanoma. Dabrafenib was compared to Dacarbazine, CAS number 4342-03-4, which is a reliable and effectual chemotherapeutic agent. As an inhibitor of BRAF gene, which renders many of the current treatments for melanoma ineffective, Dabrafenib offered patients an additional 2.4 months of life being progression-free. The standard drug, Dacarbazine did not meet or exceed the extended survival time as compared to Dabrafenib. The trial of Trametinib was also quite successful, and was also compared to standard chemotherapy treatment. Of the 322 participants in this study the life expectancy was increased for these patients by 3.3 months.
A startling one in fifty Americans has a lifetime risk of developing melanoma. The latest statistics from The American Cancer Society for 2013 are even more alarming, with predictions of 76,690 diagnoses of melanoma and 9,480 deaths from melanoma this year. With Dabrafenib and Trametinib now available for use by so many patients in need, the option for doctors to implement a BRAF mutation test and potentially treat these patients is of the utmost importance. The BRAF mutation test is sold by bioMerieux, and offers this patient population an opportunity for a prolonged and progression-free life.
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