The agency expanded the use of Afinitor, already approved to treat kidney cancer and some brain tumors, to treat patients with neuroendocrine tumors that cannot be removed by surgery or that have spread to other parts of the body.
Neuroendocrine cancer is the type that has sidelined Apple CEO Steve Jobs three times for medical treatments since he was diagnosed in 2003.
In clinical studies, patients given Afinitor had no progression of their tumors for a median of 11 months, while those on placebo had no progression only for 4.6 months. The drug appeared to benefit even people who had no success with other treatments.
"Patients with this cancer have few effective treatment options," said Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Oncology Drug Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Afinitor has demonstrated the ability to slow the growth and spread of neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas."