FDA conditionally approves drug for treating lymphoma in dogs

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The Food and Drug Administration announced Jan. 3 that it has conditionally approved Tanovea-CA1, or rabacfosadine, as the first animal drug to treat canine lymphoma.

“Across the board, we saw some positive activity in up to 80 percent of all the lymphoma patients that were treated with this medication,” said Dr. Doug Thamm, a veterinarian who led clinical trials at Colorado State University, in a CSU announcement.

VetDC Inc. is the university startup that a decade ago identified rabacfosadine for its potential in treating dogs with lymphoma. More than 100 dogs were treated with rabacfosadine at CSU since 2011; 350 dogs were treated nationwide.

Doses of the drug are given every three weeks, with a total of five infusions. That compares with conventional chemotherapy treatments that require up to 16 weekly visits.

“There are many treatments for lymphoma that are currently available for dogs, but almost all of them are repurposed old human cancer drugs,” said Dr. Thamm, head of clinical development for VetDC. The drugs can be quite effective, but many companion animals need other options for recurring cancer.

“About 95 percent of dogs, sooner or later, will get their lymphoma back, even if drugs work initially,” he said. “So finding new things that we can offer our clients when this lymphoma comes back is incredibly important. Having another drug in our toolbox that we can reach for, that we know can actually be quite effective for some dogs and doesn’t have to be given very frequently, is a real win.”

Related JAVMA content:

Cancer drug approved for dogs (July 15, 2009)

Taking on cancer (Jan. 15, 2014)

Canine cancer drug loses approval (Feb. 1, 2016)