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FDA approves Boehringer drug to treat advanced lung cancer

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a lung cancer drug made by Boehringer Ingelheim to treat patients who are suffering from late stage non-small cell lung cancer and whose tumors express a specific type of gene mutation.

The drug, Gilotrif, was approved along with a companion diagnostic kit that can help determine if a patient's lung cancer cells express the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene mutation.

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer and represents about 85 percent of all lung cancers. EGFR gene mutations are present in about 10 percent of NSCLC.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death among men and women, and according to the National Cancer Institute, an estimated 228,190 Americans will be diagnosed with, and 159,480 will die from, the disease this year.

The companion diagnostic kit, called therascreen EGFR RGQ PCR Kit, is made by Qiagen N.V.