The cancer drugs Nexavar, Sutent and Votrient appear to increase the risk of death among some patients, according to the findings of a new study.
An estimated 1.5 out of every 100 patients given one of the three cancer drugs die due to complications, according to the findings of a study published earlier this month in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. That is more than twice the rate of death among patients given a placebo.
According to a press release by the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, whose scientists led the study, the three drugs all work by blocking the growth of important receptors in cancer cells. They belong to a class of drugs known as multiple kinase inhibitors.
The study looked at 10 clinical trials involving 4,679 people treated with the drugs. Researchers said there was a 1.5% complication fatality rate among patients given the drugs, while only .6% of those on placebos died from complications.
Researchers said that the rate of incidence, overall, was small, but was high enough that patients and doctors should be informed. The drugs are still considered a benefit for the majority of the patients that need them, according to the researchers.
The most common fatal complication was bleeding, but patients also appeared to be at higher risk for heart attack, heart failure and liver failure.
Sutent (sunitinib) is a Pfizer drug used to treat kidney cancer and gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST).
Votrient is a GlaxoSmithKline drug approved for the treatment of kidney cancer.
The FDA investigated Sutent side effects for links to possible liver failure in 2009.