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New Drug in the Pipeline for Mesothelioma

New Drug in the Pipeline for Mesothelioma

Researchers in Iran tested the safety of a new version of the drug pemetrexed in patients with non-small cell lung cancer and malignant pleural mesothelioma.

This drug is used to treat these patients when they are not able to get surgery for their cancer.

The researchers were able to determine that pemetrexed is safe in patients with non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.

Treatment Choices

Malignant pleural mesothelioma is a lung-related cancer like non-small cell lung cancer. It is caused by exposure to asbestos.

Treatment for mesothelioma usually involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Patients may receive more than one type of treatment. This is called multimodal therapy.

Pemetrexed is a chemotherapy drug that interrupts the cell replication process that helps cancers to grow. Pemetrexed is approved as a first-line treatment with cisplatin for mesothelioma patients who are not eligible for surgery.

One commonly used version of this pemetrexed is called Alimta. This study looked at a different version called Alvopem.

Rare Cancer

The researchers looked at patients who were treated for lung cancer or malignant pleural mesothelioma between March 2016 and February 2020.

Ninety-three percent of these patients had non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Only 6% of these patients had malignant pleural mesothelioma. The low number of mesothelioma patients is expected because mesothelioma is considered a rare cancer.

The most serious side effects were anemia and neutropenia. Anemia is when you do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen through your body. Neutropenia happens when you have too few white blood cells which makes you vulnerable to infections.

Only 3.5% of patients reported having anemia. A little over 7% of patients experienced neutropenia.

These side effects were rare enough that the researchers concluded that the Alvopem version of pemetrexed was safe for non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Since there were so few mesothelioma patients, the researchers could not say if Alvopem was definitely safe for this group.


Seifi, S., Salimi, B., Monfared, Z.E., Sabahi, C., Kafi, H. and Khosravi, A., 2023. Alvopem®(pemetrexed) safety assessment in patients with non-small cell lung cancer or malignant pleural mesothelioma: a post-marketing surveillance. Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice16(1), pp.1-6.

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