Onivyde (irinotecan)

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Onivyde (irinotecan)

How to buy Onivyde:  You can order Onivyde (irinotecan liposome) via TheSocialMedwork if the drug has not been approved and/or is not available in the patient's country. TheSocialMedwork - helping patients and doctors access the latest approved medicines and at the lowest price possible worldwide.

Manufacturer Baxalta Innovations GmbHMerrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Disease Pancreatic Cancer
Indication Pancreatic Neoplasms
Mode of Action Topoisomerase inhibitor
Approval Status EMA approved (EU); FDA approved (USA); TGA approved (AUS)
CAS Number 97682-44-5
Strength 5 mg/mL, 4.3 mg/mL

Who is liposomal irinotecan injection for?

Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) is indicated in combination with 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin (two other cancer medicines [6][7]) for the treatment of patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas after disease progression following gemcitabine-based therapy [1][2][5].

Recommended dose

Complete information about Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) dosage and administration can be found here [2][3]. Note that 1 mL of the EMA approved Onivyde marketed by Baxalta Innovations GmbH contains the equivalent of 5 mg irinotecan hydrochloride trihydrate (as irinotecan sucrosofate salt in a pegylated liposomal formulation) which corresponds to 4.3 mg/1 mL irinotecan [3]. The latter is the strength approved by the FDA and TGA [2][5].
The standard EMA dosage (Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) 5 mg/mL) is:
  • 80 mg/m2 administered by intravenous infusion every 2 weeks followed by 5‑fluorouracil and leucovorin[3].
The standard FDA dosage (Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) 4.3 mg/mL) is:
  • 70 mg/m2 administered by intravenous infusion every 2 weeks followed by 5‑fluorouracil and leucovorin [2][5].

What is liposomal irinotecan and how does it work?

Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) is a cancer medicine used to treat adults with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. It is used together with 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin (two other cancer medicines) in adults whose cancer has worsened despite treatment containing the cancer medicine gemcitabine [1][2]. The active substance in Onivyde, irinotecan, is a topoisomerase inhibitor. It blocks an enzyme called topoisomerase I. This enzyme is involved in copying cell DNA, which is needed to make new cells. By blocking the enzyme, cancer cells are prevented from multiplying and they eventually die. In Onivyde, irinotecan is contained within tiny fat particles called ‘liposomes’. The liposomes are expected to accumulate within the tumour and release the medicine slowly over time, thereby allowing it to act for longer [1].

What is liposomal irinotecan's approval status?

Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan) was approved by:
  • FDA (USA) on October 22, 2015 [4]
  • EMA (EU) on October 14, 2016 [1]
  • TGA (AUS) on December 19, 2016 [5]
for metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas for use in combination with 5-fluorouracil and leucovorin in adults whose cancer has gotten worse despite treatment containing the cancer medicine gemcitabine.
The approvals were based on a study (NAPOLI–1 [8]) involving a total of 417 adults with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas whose cancer worsened despite cancer treatment that contained gemcitabine. Patients were given Onivyde or 5-fluorouracil plus leucovorin, or the three medicines in combination. The main measure of effectiveness was that the addition of Onivyde to the 5-fluorouracil plus leucovorin regimen prolonged patients’ lives. Patients taking the three medicines together lived for around 6.1 months (95 % CI: 4.8, 8.5), compared with 4.2 months(95 % CI: 3.3, 5.3) for patients taking 5-fluorouracil plus leucovorin [4][5], and 4.9 months for patients taking Onivyde alone [1]
The most common side effects with Onivyde are diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, neutropenia (low levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell), tiredness, weakness, anaemia (low red blood cell counts) stomatitis (inflammation of the lining of the mouth) and fever [1].
[1] EMA. Human Medicines: Onivyde (irinotecan hydrochloride trihydrate), 25/10/2016, cited on 18/01/2017.
[2] Summary of Product Characteristics [FDA]: Onivyde (irinotecan liposome injection), Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc., Oct. 2015.
[3] Summary of Product Characteristics [EMA]: Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan), Baxalta Innovations GmbH, Oct. 2016.
[4] FDA News Release: FDA approves new treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer, 22/10/2015.
[5] Summary of Product Characteristics [TGA]: Onivyde (liposomal irinotecan), Baxalta Australia Pty Ltd, Dec. 2016.
[6] Wikipedia. Fluorouracil. (last update: 5/11/2017), cited on 18/01/2017.
[7] Wikipedia. Folinic acid. (last update: 11/09/2017), cited on 18/01/2017.
[8] Wang-Gillam A., et al. Nanoliposomal irinotecan with fluorouracil and folinic acid in metastatic pancreatic cancer after previous gemcitabine-based therapy (NAPOLI-1): a global, randomised, open-label, phase 3 trial. The Lancet. 2016 Feb 6; 387(10018):545–557.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided here is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Medicine information contained herein may be time sensitive. The absence of a warning for a given medicine or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate that the medicine or combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Always consult your treating physician before starting a course of treatment.

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