Mesothelioma Drug May Increase Risk of Kidney Damage: Study

Italian researchers warn that the popular mesothelioma drug Alimta may increase the risk of kidney damage, even among patients with relatively healthy kidneys. 

In a study published in the July edition of the Journal of Nephrology, researchers indicate that kidney problems were reported in more than one out of every five Alimta users.

Alimta (pemetrexed) is an Eli Lilly & Co. drug approved by the FDA to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma and advanced nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It already carries a warning that patients should be given oral folic acid and intramuscular vitamin B12 to reduce the risks of kidney toxicity.

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In the most recent study, researchers conducted a retrospective evaluation on the incidence of renal injuries affected by NSCLC. They found that between June 2010 and March 2012, one hospital saw 38 NSCLC patients with kidney problems. The researchers were able to exclude other possible causes of injury in 29 of those cases.

Researchers found that 21% of patients taking Alimta suffered kidney problems, even though many tested adequately for baseline kidney functions, suggesting that the drug’s side effects can harm even patients with healthy kidneys.

The news is of importance to both NSCLC and mesothelioma patients, with researchers indicating that doctors and patients should be aware of the risks even for patients who test as having healthy kidneys.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers. It is a lethal disease, which is often at a very advanced stage when a diagnosis is made, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.

Mesothelioma lawsuits are the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.

In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos, in recent years there have been a growing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought in recent years, with wives, children and other family members alleging they developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.

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