The Seven "Most Exciting" Drugs of 2012

By McCarton Ackerman 01/23/13

Forbes magazine makes some interesting picks in a list of Rx drugs approved by the FDA last year.

Will the new drugs be long-term lifesavers?
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Not all drugs are harmful. Melanie Haiken at Forbes has compiled a fascinating list of the seven most exciting drugs approved by the FDA in 2012. Making the cut are treatments for skin cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, leukemia, erectile dysfuction and—perhaps most controversially—obesity. While some are simply improvements on previously available drugs, most are breakthroughs that weren't previously available; will they prove to be lifesavers in the long run?

  • 1. Xtandi; generic version: enzalutamide (Prostate Cancer) Combats tumor growth in men with advanced prostate cancer. In clinical trials, it extended life by an average of five months and some men added much more time than that. 
  • 2. Qsymia (Weight Loss) Accelerates weight loss—so much that those who took it in clinical trials lost an average of 23 pounds. However, the drug has also demonstrated extreme side effects, including birth defects when taken by pregnant women. 
  • 3. Belviq; generic version: lorcaserin (Weight Loss) Designed to speed weight loss without using controversial phentermine. Still being studied in Europe for possible side effects.
  • 4. Stendra; generic version: avanafil (Erectile Dysfunction) The first new drug for erectile dysfunction approved by the FDA in 10 years, it's reportedly the fastest acting and longest lasting ED drug. 
  • 5. Erivedge; generic version: vismodegib (Skin Cancer) Treats advanced basal cell carcinoma—the most common type of skin cancer. It was only approved with a warning of the risk of stillbirth and severe birth defects if used by pregnant women or couples who conceive during treatment.
  • 6. Bosulif; generic version: bosutinib (Leukemia) Offers targeted genetic therapy to the many people with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) who have a specific genetic mutation. It's the only drug available for this purpose.
  • 7. Xalkori; generic version: crizotinib (Lung Cancer) Designed for the small percentage of lung cancer patients with the genetic defect "ALK." It sells at $9,000 per month, but manufacturer Pfizer has pledged to offer financial help to patients who need it to survive.
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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.