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GLAXO'S ZOFRAN OFFERS CANCER PATIENTS BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE DURING CHEMOTHERAPY

 GLAXO'S ZOFRAN OFFERS CANCER PATIENTS
 BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE DURING CHEMOTHERAPY
 BALTIMORE, Jan. 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Zofran (ondansetron HCl), a drug for preventing the nausea and vomiting associated with cancer chemotherapy, is improving many patients' ability to tolerate their treatment and get on with their lives, according to Judith Shell, R.N. Shell, an oncology nurse at Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids, Mich., spoke to her colleagues at the American Cancer Society's Second National Conference on Cancer Nursing Research here today.
 In a recent trial conducted at 24 medical centers(A), ondansetron was compared with metoclopramide -- traditionally the most widely used antiemetic -- in 307 cancer patients receiving high doses of cisplatin, one of the cancer drugs most likely to cause vomiting (emesis). The authors of the study cited ondansetron as a "major advance" in the care of cancer chemotherapy patients.
 In the study, patients given ondansetron experienced 42 percent fewer treatment failures than patients given metoclopramide, a statistically significant difference. The median time to onset of emesis in the two groups was 20.5 and 4.3 hours, respectively. In ondansetron-treated patients, side effects were minor and included headache. In contrast, extreme restlessness (akathisia) and muscle spasms (acute dystonic reactions) were reported in 6.4 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively, of those patients given metoclopramide. Although not seen in this study, there have been rare reports consistent with, but not diagnostic of, such events -- called extrapyramidal reactions -- with ondansetron therapy.
 In an interview before her presentation, Shell described how a number of her patients have benefited from the new agent. "Muscle spasms, which are especially troublesome in pediatric patients treated with metoclopramide, are not a problem with Zofran," she said. As a result, patients don't have to be given sedatives to prevent the side effects of the antiemetic.
 "With Zofran, there's generally little of the lethargy, tiredness, or amnesia so often associated with other antiemetic regimens," Shell said. "During treatment, patients stay alert. They can go back to work -- they don't lose a day out of their lives."
 For years, emesis has been the most dreaded side effect of chemotherapy. Once it occurs, it can be so severe that patients may ask to discontinue treatment. Or they may become so anxious that they are unable to sleep for several nights before their next course of chemotherapy. They may even suffer from "anticipatory" emesis, uncontrollable nausea and vomiting that can be triggered by the mere thought of chemotherapy -- even before treatment begins.
 "Zofran can make a significant difference in patients' willingness to stick with their treatment," said Dr. Kelly Pendergrass, director of medical oncology at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, Mo., who was one of the principal investigators of the multicenter study. "In addition, it allows us to administer chemotherapy at full dosages and without the delays that can be caused by acute episodes of nausea and vomiting. This is important, because it may spell the difference in how well patients respond."
 Zofran differs from other antiemetics because of its mechanism of action. It is thought that emesis occurs when chemotherapeutic agents damage certain cells in the gut, causing them to release the chemical serotonin, or 5 hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). The released 5-HT binds to 5-HT3, the specific type of 5-HT receptor that has been linked to nausea and vomiting. Once the vomiting reflex is triggered in the gut, impulses travel to the brain, eventually reaching the vomiting center. Zofran prevents 5-HT from binding to 5-HT3, switching off the mechanism that triggers nausea and vomiting.
 Zofran was developed by Glaxo, leaders in serotonin research. It is available for intravenous injection. For complete prescription information, see the package insert.
 Glaxo Inc. researches, develops, manufactures, and markets prescription medicines, including those for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, infectious diseases, respiratory ailments, central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and diseases of the skin. It is a subsidiary of London-based Glaxo Holdings p.l.c. (NYSE: GLX).
 (A) -- Journal of Clinical Oncology, 1991;9:721-728.
 -0- 1/31/92
 /CONTACT: Roselyn Hirsch of Ruder Finn, 212-593-6359, for Glaxo/
 (GLX) CO: Glaxo Inc. ST: Maryland IN: MTC SU:


GK-TS -- NY019 -- 5536 01/31/92 10:37 EST
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Date:Jan 31, 1992
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