New Chemotherapy Weapon in the Battle Against Canine Lymphoma

For the past 30 years, veterinarians have relied on the same constellation of generic human-labeled drugs to manage canine lymphoma: prednisone, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, and doxorubicin. During that time, the drug doses, treatment intervals, combinations and protocol lengths have been refined, and patient monitoring and supportive care have improved.  With the incremental improvements over time, we now find that lymphoma is readily treatable, dogs enjoy a good quality of life, and half our patients are expected to live longer than a year when treated with combination chemotherapy.

Now, with the conditional FDA approval of Tanovea-CA1 (rabacfosadine), veterinarians have another weapon in the battle against canine lymphoma.  Tanovea-CA1 is a novel chemotherapy drug that is given to dogs intravenously once every 3 weeks.  The current recommendation is for a dog to get 5 doses of Tanovea-CA1, and it can be used as first-line treatment or as a rescue drug for dogs whose lymphoma has become refractory to other chemotherapy drugs.  The mechanism of action of Tanovea-CA1 is different that other chemotherapy drugs – and is demonstrated in this video:

Our practice has just recently gotten Tanovea-CA1.  In early clinical use, the drug has been well-tolerated.  The most commonly reported side effects are GI issues and changes in white blood cell count, which is similar to other chemotherapy drugs.  Tanovea-CA1 can also cause pulmonary fibrosis, which is a side effect of another chemotherapy drug called bleomycin. We have so far only used it on dogs with lymphoma that have been previously treated with chemotherapy and relapsed.  They have all had good clinical responses.  As we gain more experience we will see if observed response rate aligns with that reported by Vet-DC.  Because Tanovea-CA1 is not currently available in Ohio or Michigan, we are getting calls from clients in those states who are traveling to our practice seeking treatment for their dogs with lymphoma.  Hopefully veterinarians in Ohio and Michigan will soon have access so folks don’t have to travel so far with their dogs.

For now I remain optimistic that Vet-DC will successfully complete the next regulatory steps needed for full FDA approval of Tanovea-CA1. It is a challenging process to get a cancer therapy approved for pets as evidenced by the recent loss of conditional approval of PaccalVet-CA1 and Kinavet-CA1.  When animal health companies fail to complete the registration process for cancer therapies, it affects the veterinary profession in two ways: 1) creating fewer treatment options available for the pets that need them and 2) making it less likely other animal health companies will enter the cancer market.  As long as Tanovea-CA1 remains available, we’ll take advantage.

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