Low-Fat Meal May Boost Costly Cancer Drug
Health Library Explorer
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z A-Z Listings Contact Us
Health News
Health Day

Low-Fat Meal May Boost Costly Cancer Drug

FRIDAY, Feb. 17, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Eating a low-fat meal when taking an expensive prostate cancer drug can cut the cost of the drug by three-quarters, a new study indicates.

"We know this drug [Zytiga] is absorbed much more efficiently when taken with food," said study author Dr. Russell Szmulewitz, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago.

"It's inefficient, even wasteful, to take this medicine while fasting, which is how the drug's label says to take it," he noted in a university news release.

But, Szmulewitz cautioned that patients shouldn't start experimenting with drug doses on their own.

"This was a relatively small study, too small to show with confidence that the lower dose is as effective. It gives us preliminary, but far from definitive, evidence. Physicians should use their discretion, based on patient needs," he advised.

Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) costs more than $9,000 a month and patients typically remain on the drug for 12 to 18 months, researchers said. Even patients with the best health insurance can have co-pays of $1,000 to $3,000 a month.

This study found similar outcomes between 36 advanced prostate cancer patients who took 250 milligrams of the drug with a low-fat breakfast and 36 patients who took the standard dose of 1,000 milligrams on an empty stomach.

For both groups, the time to disease progression was about 14 months.

The study was to be presented Monday at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

"Our results warrant consideration by doctors who care for prostate cancer patients, as well as payers," according to Szmulewitz.

He said the findings suggest that advanced prostate cancer patients who have difficulty affording the drug could, with close monitoring by their doctor, consider taking a smaller dose with a low-fat breakfast. That could lead to a per-patient savings of up to $7,500 each month.

"If we could reduce the cost of medication for this stage of the disease by a few thousand dollars each month simply by having patients take it with food, that would be significant," Szmulewitz said.

The researchers noted that taking the drug with a high-fat meal increased absorption of the drug even more. But high-fat meals raised levels of the drug more unpredictably than low-fat meals did, they said.

This year, more than 160,000 men in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. In 2017, the American Cancer Society estimates that nearly 27,000 men will die from the disease.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on prostate cancer.

SOURCE: University of Chicago, news release, Feb. 13, 2017

Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
About Us

Our web site is designed to provide general information to educate users about programs and services, which may be available through our hospitals. The web site is not intended to provide medical advice nor should the information be used to attempt to determine the presence, absence or severity of any illness or medical condition which may be perceived or experienced by the user of this site. If you have or suspect you may have an illness or condition which you believe requires medical attention, we recommend you call your primary care physician. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency please call "911" (or your local medical emergency number) or seek immediate care from the nearest hospital Emergency Department. The provision of information to users of this web site is not intended as an inducement or to otherwise influence a person's decision to order or receive any item or service from a particular provider, practitioner or supplier that is reimbursable under Medicare, a state healthcare program (e.g., AHCCS) or any other healthcare plan.

Physicians are members of the medical staff at each facility, but are independent contractors who are neither employees nor agents of Palmetto General Hospital; and, as a result, Palmetto General Hospital is not responsible for the actions of any of these physicians in their medical practices.