FDA approves Erwinaze for acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Drug approved for patients with allergies to other treatments

SILVER SPRING, Md. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new chemotherapy drug for treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the agency said Friday.

The FDA announced the approval of EUSA Pharma's Erwinaze (asparaginase Erwinia chrysanthemi) to treat patients with ALL who have developed an allergy to E. coli-derived asparaginase and pegaspargase chemotherapy drugs.

The drug is injected directly into the muscle three times a week and works by breaking down asparagine, an amino acid that is present in the blood and is necessary for cell growth. Leukemia cells can't produce asparagine, so they die when the patient receives the drug. But normal cells, which can produce enough of the amino acid on their own, are not affected.


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