FDA gives green light to blood-cancer medication

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Food and Drug Administration approved a medication to treat patients who have three types of blood cancer.

Idelalisib, which is marketed as Zydelig by manufacturer Gilead Sciences, can be used in combination with Rituxan (rituximab) to treat patients whose chronic lymphocytic leukemia has returned, or relapsed. The150 mg tablet also is approved to treat relapsed follicular B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and relapsed small lymphocytic lymphoma, which is another type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The effectiveness and safety of idelalisib was established in a clinical trial of 220 patients who had chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The participants were assigned randomly to receive rituximab and idelalisib or rituximab and a placebo. Those who took the combination therapy lived an average of 10.7 months without the disease progressing compared with 5.5 months for those who took a placebo.

Gilead Sciences says at least 200,000 people in the United States have one of the three aforementioned blood cancers.