The company that developed tumor treating fields for mesothelioma says it is still making, supporting, and studying the device in spite of the global pandemic.
Last month, Novocure even announced a new name for the electricity-based mesothelioma therapy. Tumor treating fields or the NovoTTF-100L System will now go by the brand name Optune Lua.
“Optune Lua is easy to pronounce and remember, and should help patients, caregivers and providers ask for the treatment by name,” says Pritesh Shah, Novocure’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Novocure says they are following all WHO and CDC recommendations to keep producing tumor treating fields for mesothelioma patients who need it.
What is Optune Lua?
Tumor treating fields for mesothelioma uses specific frequencies of electric fields to disrupt cell division. This inhibits tumor growth and causes pleural mesothelioma cells to die. Damage to normal cells is minimal so there are few side effects.
The device sticks directly to the patient’s chest to deliver the electricity. Minor skin irritation is the major complaint for most mesothelioma patients. Fewer than 10 percent have more serious problems like anemia, constipation or nausea.
Last year, the system became only the second FDA-approved treatment for mesothelioma. It is approved for advanced mesothelioma patients who are not candidates for surgery. Under the Humanitarian Device approval, doctors can use tumor treating fields for mesothelioma along with standard chemotherapy.
Company Still Offering Tumor Treating Fields for Mesothelioma
The spread of COVID-19 has impacted the supply chain for many products. But in a statement last week, Novocure says tumor treating fields for mesothelioma would not be one of them.
The company says manufacturing of the device can keep pace with demand.
“Our strong balance sheet allows us to maintain investments in innovation, and we continue to advance commercial and development priorities as we adapt to the realities of COVID-19,” says Executive Chairman William Doyle.
Tumor treating fields for mesothelioma is new to doctors and patients. One of the most important services Novocure provides is guidance and support on how to use it.
But many hospitals and cancer centers are limiting outside visitors right now. Where in-person visits are not possible, Novocure says it will “leverage technology” to provide support.
It is using phone and web-based technologies to connect with doctors and researchers. It is also using “virtual means” to connect patients with other “patient ambassadors” – mesothelioma patients who have used Optune Lua.
The biggest challenge for tumor treating fields for mesothelioma will be in the area of clinical trials. Novocure says its six clinical trials will continue, but enrollment is likely to be slower.
“Generally, COVID-19-related effects are anticipated to shift the timing of enrollment and completion of clinical studies by multiple quarters,” the report states. “Timing shifts will likely vary by clinical trial.”
“Novocure Announces Optune Lua™ as the Brand Name for the NovoTTF-100L™ System”, March 19, 2020, Novocure news release, Novocure website, https://www.novocure.com/novocure-announces-optune-lua-as-the-brand-name-for-the-novottf-100l-system/
“Novocure Provides Business Update Related to COVID-19”, April 3, 2020, News release, Novocure website, https://www.novocure.com/novocure-provides-business-update-related-to-covid-19/