We recently wrote about a new, growing type of cancer center focused on immunotherapy and collaboration between top doctors. Our Actos attorneys are happy to report that a new immunotherapy drug, Tecentriq, has been approved to treat bladder cancer.
As our Actos bladder cancer clients know, there have not been any important improvements in bladder cancer treatment in many years. Tecentriq is an immunotherapy drug, meaning it unleashes the body’s own immune system to attack tumors.
Tecentriq is part of a class of immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors, and is the first of its kind approved for bladder cancer. Specifically, the drug targets urothelial carcinoma, which makes up about 90% of all bladder cancers.
Bladder cancer patients are in such urgent need for a new treatment that the FDA approved Tecentriq four months ahead of schedule. Traditional treatments – chemotherapy, radiation and surgery – are sometimes successful but often not. Bladder cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.
Of more than 77,000 bladder cancer diagnoses each year, two-thirds of the cases are in men. Certain factors increase your likelihood of developing bladder cancer. Some are obvious, like smoking cigarettes and exposure to certain chemicals. Others are more insidious, such as taking the diabetes drug Actos.
Bladder Cancer Lawsutis
Actos is proven to increase the risk of bladder cancer if taken for more than a year. More than 9,000 people have filed lawsuits against Actos manufacturers, and eight trials have gone to jury so far. Plaintiffs succeeded in five of those cases. In 2014, a Louisiana jury awarded an Actos plaintiff $9 billion to punish the drugmakers for not only making and selling a cancer-causing drug, but for destroying evidence of its guilt before trial.
The drugmakers set aside more than $2 billion for Actos bladder cancer settlements. We have been representing Actos plaintiffs for over five years now and continue to accept bladder cancer claims nationwide. There is still time for you to take part in this settlement. Contact our Actos lawyers for a free case review.
First Checkpoint Inhibitor for Bladder Cancer
There are three other cancer drugs in the checkpoint inhibitor class: Keytruda (which sent former President Jimmy Carter’s melanoma into remission), Yervoy (also used for melanoma), and Opdivo, which can be used to treat lung cancer, melanoma, or Hodgkin lymphoma.
Of course, each patient’s treatment depends entirely on his or her unique circumstance. Influencing factors can include the patient’s overall health, age and personal preferences, the cancer’s type, stage and location, and the options available at the treatment center. All patients should remember that they have the right to get multiple opinions from different doctors, specialists and clinics. You should always feel fully in control of your own health and understand how you’re being treated.
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The FDA approved Tecentriq based on a clinical trial that began several years ago. A 77-year-old man from Pennsylvania, Gene Zawatski, had been receiving chemotherapy every Thursday for his bladder cancer before taking part in the Tecentriq trial. The chemotherapy kept his cancer from spreading but his quality of life suffered greatly.
Zawatski’s bladder cancer disappeared after starting the Tecentriq trial. He was one of about 5.5% of trial patients whose cancer completely disappeared. Another 15% of patients saw their tumors shrink significantly from the drug.
How it Works
Tecentriq targets a protein called PD-L1, which is made by bladder cancer tumors as well as the immune system. In bladder cancer patients, PD-L1 latches onto immune system cells, preventing them from attacking cancer cells.
Tecentriq prevents PD-L1 proteins from latching onto immune cells, so the immune system can recognize cancer as a dangerous invader and attack. Tecentriq prevents this by latching onto PD-L1 itself.
Because of the way it works, Tecentriq is most successful in patients with high levels of PD-L1 near their tumors. Still, the drug is available to all patients with advanced bladder cancer. Some of the most common side effects include nausea, organ inflammation, and fatigue.
We continue to accept bladder cancer claims nationwide. Our Actos attorneys provide free case reviews to patients and their families.