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Herceptin Now Made Available to More Women Through Fox Chase Cancer Center, NCI Announces

PHILADELPHIA (September 22, 1998) -- The National Cancer Institute announced today that Herceptin will now be made available to all women who are enrolled in the lottery set up to dispense the limited supplies of the experimental breast cancer drug. Fox Chase Cancer Center is among the cancer centers chosen to distribute the drug.

Herceptin has been shown to shrink tumors in some patients with advanced metastatic breast cancer. "This is exciting news for these women who have failed other breast cancer treatments and look to Herceptin as another hope in fighting the disease," said Dr. Robert Ozols, senior vice president for medical science at Fox Chase.

Women in the current trial of Herceptin over-express the protein HER2/neu. HER2/neu is involved in the regulation of cell growth. This abnormality occurs in 25 to 30 percent of all breast cancer cases. Between 15 and 20 percent of patients with these extra cancer genes responded to Herceptin in a large study sponsored by Genentech.

Although the priority to receive Herceptin will be given to the patients already enrolled in the lottery, others will now have increased access to Herceptin. Eligible patients who have not entered the lottery may receive Herceptin through a participating cancer center such as Fox Chase Cancer Center through two separates protocols, if waiting for commercial release is not a reasonable option.

To enter either protocol, all patients must have disease that has recurred or progressed following treatment with two regimens for advanced breast cancer that express the HER2/neu protein. There are other eligibility requirements. To obtain information regarding eligibility patients can call NCI's Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

Herceptin is a monoclonal antibody, one of a group of drugs designed to attack specific cancer cells. Herceptin's targets are the HER2/Neu cancer cells.

On September 2, 1998, the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee recommended that the Food and Drug Administration approve Herceptin. The Committee provides independent expert scientific advice to the FDA on cancer therapies being considered for approval. The FDA is expected to follow the recommendation and approve Herceptin this fall.

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 34 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. The Center's activities include basic and clinical research, prevention, detection and treatment of cancer and community outreach program.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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