Ralph G. Zinner, MD | Authors




Pemetrexed in Advanced NSCLC: A Review of the Clinical Data

July 01, 2004

The novel multitargeted antimetabolite pemetrexed (Alimta), recentlyapproved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment ofmesothelioma when combined with cisplatin, is also active in first- andsecond-line non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In a phase III trialcomparing single-agent pemetrexed vs docetaxel (Taxotere) as secondlinetherapy in advanced NSCLC, survival was shown to be comparablebetween these agents, but side effects were significantly less frequentand severe for patients who received pemetrexed. In the frontlinesetting, phase II studies have shown significant activity and a veryfavorable toxicity profile of the combination of pemetrexed with a platinumagent. Pemetrexed has been well tolerated at systemic doses as aradiosensitizer when given as concurrent chest radiation, and a phaseI study is under way to assess its tolerability in combination withcarboplatin (Paraplatin) in this setting. Pemetrexed is an importantaddition to the armamentarium of medicines used to treat thoracicmalignancies, and merits study in combination with other drugs havingnovel mechanisms of action.