The FDA approved Akynzeo (netupitant and palonosetron) as a fixed combination capsule to treat nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing cancer chemotherapy.
Oral palonosetron, approved in 2008, prevents nausea and vomiting during the acute phase (within 24 hours) after the start of chemotherapy. Netupitant, a new drug, prevents nausea and vomiting during both the acute phase and delayed phase (from 25 to 120 hours) after the start of cancer chemotherapy.
Akynzeo’s effectiveness was established in two clinical trials of 1,720 participants receiving cancer chemotherapy. Participants were randomly assigned to receive Akynzeo or oral palonosetron. The trials were designed to measure whether the study drugs prevented any vomiting episodes in the acute, delayed and overall phases after the start of cancer chemotherapy.
Results of the first trial showed that 98.5 percent, 90.4 percent and 89.6 percent of Akynzeo-treated participants did not experience any vomiting or require rescue medication for nausea during the acute, delayed and overall phases, respectively. In contrast, 89.7 percent, 80.1 percent and 76.5 percent of participants treated with oral palonosetron did not experience any vomiting or require rescue medication for nausea during the acute, delayed and overall phases, respectively. The second trial showed similar results.
Common side effects of Akynzeo in the clinical trials were headache, weakness (asthenia), fatigue, indigestion (dyspepsia) and constipation.
Akynzeo is distributed and marketed by Eisai Inc. of Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, under license from Lugano, Switzerland-based Helsinn Healthcare S.A.