Gleevec Pill Keeps Cancer Patients Alive For More Than 10 Years, New Study Says; Who Gets To Benefit The Most?

By Jeff Thompson - 10 Mar '17 19:15PM

A recent study has proven that Gleevec pill, a chemotherapy medication, can help keep cancer patients alive for more than ten years. The drug also known as imatinib mesylate was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2001. It is significantly useful to many types of cancers from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)to acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) among others.

The drug has significantly reduced the cancer death rates over the years, according to the study. The study conducted by the U.S. National Cancer Institute took the data of 1,106 participants from 177 cancer institutes from as many as 16 countries. The research showed that one tablet a day significantly helped 83 percent of the patients to live longer beyond a decade. Interestingly, the CML patients stand to benefit the most with the pill. Before 2001, one in every three CML patients only survive beyond five years, and now there is a significant change in the results.

Bharat Shah, a survivor of CML, has confirmed that his survival period was estimated to be six months to three years when he was diagnosed in 2000. He joined the clinical trials for Gleevec and got back to normal life within two months. He is using the drug for past 17 years and confirms that the only side effect is that the eyes tend to get puffy. In the study, other patients reported side effects like fatigue, muscle pain, nausea, and itchy skin.

Interestingly, Gleevec is listed by World Health Organization in the List of Essential Medicines, which is normally classified as safe and effective medicines. It is reported that the manufacturer of the pill, Novartis is earning more than $4 billion per year from it. There are two more rival pills are available in the market of the same class; Tasigna which is also known as nilotinib and Sprycel.

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