It’s time for my annual report about the novel medications that were approved in the year 2020. I’ve been writing this yearly article for more than 20 years, and we usually see more new molecular entities than we did this year. No surprise there! In 2020, we saw a greater focus on immune-related drugs, and some were fast-tracked to make it to the market now. While you read this, keep in mind that I’m read worldwide, but I am only listing the American brand names, so please ask your doctor what the brand name is in your country.
By the way, the two COVID-19 vaccines (one by Pfizer and one by Moderna), are not yet FDA approved. They are available for “Emergency Use Authorization” and once Phase III is conducted on the volunteers getting it right now, the United States FDA will evaluate incoming data and give it their official stamp of approval. That should be happen in the next month or two.
Pizensy® (Lactitol), Rx, Oral
This medication is used for constipation, especially the unrelenting type that has no obvious cause (termed “idiopathic”). Lactitol is the active (generic) ingredient name which is a common additive in many prescription drugs. It’s been around and used as a sweetener for low-calorie foods. You may have heard of it’s cousins which are also used so sweeten foods… erythritol, sorbitol, and xylitol. There is prescribing information HERE.
Ayvakit® (Avapritinib), Rx, Oral
This medication is for stomach tumors and it’s taken once daily on an empty stomach. The FDA fast-tracked approval for this medication based upon a nationwide test conducted on 204 patients with a metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST), or one that could not be surgically removed. The drug seeks to shrink the tumor. Here’s the site to learn more about Ayvakit.
Tepezza® (Teprotumumab-trbw), Rx, IV injection
This medication is given as an infusion to people with a specific eye problem caused by Graves’ disease. The disorder sometimes causes a person’s eyes to bulge out, and Tepezza helps over time. It does not stop the autoimmune process. It seems to flare up problems for people who have pre-existing inflammatory bowel disease. I wrote an article earlier this year that offers more details about this medication. CLICK HERE to read “Tepezza for Thyroid Eye Disease”. If you’re interested in my Thyroid Healthy book, it is available HERE. It is about hypothyroidism mainly, however it does have a chapter about Graves’ disease, as well as the natural herbs that could help. And if you’d like to go to the drug’s website to learn more, just CLICK HERE.
Nurtec® ODT (Oral Disintegrating Tablets), Rimegepant, Rx, Oral
These quickly dissolving pills work for a day or two and help with symptoms of a migraine. In a study of 1,351 people those who took the drug experienced improvement from light and sound sensitivity, as well as nausea at the 2-hour interval (compared to the placebo group). This is a drug that treats the migraine symptoms, it is not a preventative aid. For that, please refer to my book, Headache Free: Relieve Migraine, Tension, Cluster, Menstrual and Lyme Headaches, sold on Amazon. Here is the medication’s WEBSITE.
Sarclisa® (Isatuximab), Rx, Injection
Used for the treatment of resistant multiple myeloma, this newer agent is slightly easier to administer because it’s faster for patients. As part of its mechanism of action, it acts like a CD38 inhibitor binding to myeloma cells and blocking growth or slowing spread. Before Sarclisa, one had to also take an FDA approved CD38 inhibitor such as daratumumab along with other treatments. This new drug is not a first line agent, it’s for people who have tried other meds and not responded. If you’d like more information about Sarclisa, CLICK HERE.
Retevmo® (Selpercatnib), Rx, Oral
This is a completely new and novel agent to treat people with either thyroid cancer or non-small cell lung cancer. It’s in a category of drugs called “kinase inhibitors” and it’s not like traditional chemotherapy. It’s very targeted so there are fewer side effects. It comes as either a 40 or 80mg capsule. Side effects include jaundice, heart arrhythmias, hypertension and others. This medication works by blocking an enzyme called kinase and that is one of our body’s growth factors. Certain kinases land on a cell, and signal it to grow like wildfire, and Retevmo comes along and slows that process down, thus slowing cancer growth/metastasis. Retevmo.com
Veklury® (Remdesivir), Rx, Injection
This antiviral medication is the first and only antiviral treatment FDA approved for COVID-19. It was FDA approved in 2020 and it’s indicated for the treatment of adults and kids (≥12 years old) requiring hospitalization for COVID-19. This is not an at-home type of medication (ie like an antibiotic or an oral antiviral drug), this is an injection that is given via infusion in a hospital setting. Patients who receive this drug appear to have a shortened timeframe of illness as well as lower risk of respiratory infection. Here is the medication’s website to LEARN MORE. And here is a study from the New England Journal of Medicine.