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First targeted therapy approved for metastatic colorectal cancer patients in more than a decade.

Fruquitinib has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat metastatic colorectal cancer in patients who have progressed from standard therapies, including chemotherapy and other targeted therapies. Targeted therapy is a type of cancer treatment that targets specific gene pathways and proteins that help cancer cells survive and grow. Fruquitinib is a selective kinase inhibitor that targets every vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR). These receptors help the cancer form new blood vessels in a process called angiogenesis. This process allows the cancer to access the body’s nutrients. Fruquitinib specifically targets this process and will ‘starve’ the tumour of nutrients. This selectivity is important as the drug can be combined with other treatments. 

Fruquitinib, under the trade name FRUZAQLA, was approved after two phase 3 clinical trials; the FRESCO-2 trial, and the FRESCO trial, evaluating the drug in a combined cohort of 1100 patients, with the drug being safe and effective in 734 of those patients. Patients showed an increase in survival in both phase 3 trials of around 3 months compared to placebo. Targeted therapies are not funded by PHARMAC in New Zealand for metastatic colorectal cancer. Certain targeted therapies, such as Fruquitinib may be covered by health insurance or are available to patients under a cost-share program from treatment manufacturers, such as Roche. Patients in New Zealand should consult with a specialist in private care to see if they will benefit from targeted treatment. 

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