(NaturalNews) The FDA has given its approval to the first chemotherapy drug developed specifically for dogs.
"This cancer drug approval for dogs is an important step forward for veterinary medicine," said Bernadette Dunham of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "Prior to this approval, veterinarians had to rely on human oncology drugs, without knowledge of how safe or effective they would be for dogs. Today's approval offers dog owners, in consultation with their veterinarian, an option for treatment of their dog's cancer."
The drug, produced by Pfizer, is called toceranib phosphate and will be marketed under the name Palladia. In the family known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, Palladia attacks tumor cells directly while also cutting off the blood supply that they need to grow.
While chemotherapy has been available to pet owners for many years, veterinarians have only been able to prescribe drugs tested on humans, with no guarantee that they would work in dogs or other pets. According to the canine cancer awareness nonprofit Georgia's Legacy, pet owners choosing to treat their dogs for cancer "should be prepared to spend several thousand dollars in the course of your dog's treatment, especially if you go through chemotherapy."
Pfizer has not yet revealed how much Palladia will cost. Pet owners in the United States currently spend $12.2 billion on veterinary medicine per year, contributing to an increasing market for pet insurance.
Palladia has been approved only for the treatment of canine cutaneous cancer, which accounts for one in five dog
skin cancers. Like most forms of cancer, this variety can spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.
In clinical trials, Palladia slowed or stopped cutaneous tumor growth in 60 percent of pups treated with it. The most common side effects included bloody stool, diarrhea, lameness, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Sources for this story include: www.scientificamerican.com; www.fda.gov