Provenge gets clean bill of health on safety, side effects

Dendreon's (NASDAQ: DNDN) megablockbuster launch of the prostate cancer vaccine Provenge got an added boost earlier in the week when researchers unveiled a new block of data that underscores the therapy's safety and paucity of side effects.

The vast majority of the men enlisted in the Phase III trial--83 percent--were able to go about their lives without restrictions. The most common side effects were symptoms similar to the flu, with 3.5 percent experiencing chills, fever and headache. Another 3.5 percent experienced more serious infusion reactions.

The world's first approved therapeutic cancer vaccine, Provenge is made from the white blood cells extracted from patients. The cells are treated and then infused back into the patient. And Dendreon has tracked an average 4.5 month survival benefit over chemotherapy, which is linked to far harsher side effects.

However, one of Provenge's biggest drawbacks, it appears, is cost.

"I've heard $30,000, I've heard $90,000 ... I have no idea what it's going to cost. And who's going to pay for it?" asks Dr. Nelson Neal Stone, a clinical professor of urology and radiation oncology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

- here's the story from HealthDay

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