Imatinib mesylate tablets (Gleevec, Novartis) have been approved for patients with five distinct and potentially life-threatening disorders. This approval represents the first time that a regulatory authority has simultaneously approved one drug for this many disorders.
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Imatinib is now indicated for seven diseases, including two solid tumors and five blood disorders with molecular targets known to be inhibited by the drug. The new approval covers one solid tumor (dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans) and four rare blood disorders (relapsed/ refractory Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ ALL), certain forms of myelo-dysplastic/myeloproliferative diseases, hypereosinophilic syndrome/chronic eosinophilic leukemia, and aggressive systemic mastocytosis).
Imatinib targets the activity of tyrosine kinases, which may play important roles within some cancer cells, including platelet-derived growth factor receptor.