Taking a standard prostate cancer drug with food boosts impact, lowers cost
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Credit: The University of Chicago Medicine

By taking a high-cost drug with a low-fat meal–instead of on an empty stomach, as prescribed–prostate cancer patients could decrease their daily dose, prevent digestive issues and cut costs by 75 percent, according to a new study in the March 28, 2018, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO).

Abiraterone acetate, marketed as Zytiga®, is the standard medicine used to treat metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. Patients taking Zytiga are told to take four of the 250 milligram pills first thing in the morning. Then, having gone without food overnight, they must wait at least one more hour before eating breakfast.

“This schedule is not only inconvenient for patients, it’s also wasteful, in several ways,” said the study’s lead author, Russell Szmulewitz, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Chicago and a prostate cancer specialist.

A one-month supply of the recommended dose of abiraterone costs $8,000 to $11,000 when purchased wholesale. That adds up to a little more than $100,000 each year. Many patients take the drug for two to three years.

So Szmulewitz and colleague Mark Ratain, MD, the Leon O. Jacobson professor of medicine and director of the Center

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