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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Palladia, First Dog Cancer Drug FDA Approved But Not Great

Updated: March 14th, 2019

Palladia, the first drug officially approved for use in treating dog cancer has arrived.  This was described in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide by it’s pre-market name, SU11654. Now it’s finally ready for release.

Palladia, made by Pfizer, has been approved by the FDA. It is expected to be available next year.  This drug is approved for treating mast cell tumors in the dog.

The fact that this is the first drug approved for dog cancer may be odd for many.  What about all those chemotherapy drugs that are used? They are not FDA approved?

Well, the facts are that vets and veterinary oncologists have been using human drugs the whole time.  As a matter of fact, many of the drugs we use generally are not FDA-approved for use in the canine.



Why?

It turns out that FDA drug approval is allowed for one species at a time.  On top of that, approval is for one disease or problem.  In veterinary medicine, we have cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, monkeys, snakes, and so on…many different species, and they all need treatment.

It would take hundred of years and staggering amounts of money to get all our drugs approved for all these different species and diseases.

So vets have “off-label” drug use privileges.  Off-label drug use means we can use drugs approved for one species (including humans) freely in  other species.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts around Palladia.

Like most of the conventional treatments we use in treating dogs with cancer, the numbers for Palladia are a bit disheartening.

The median duration of objective response (meaning how long the Palladia’s effect lasted on mast cell tumors) was 12 weeks. Yes, 3 months of tumor shrinkage or disappearance  is what you can expect. This number is taken from the original study.

After 3 months the cancer came back.

On top of this, not all dogs with mast cell tumors even responded.  It turns out that roughly 40% of dog with mast cell tumors will actually respond to the drug, while the majority do not.

This means that while about 40% of the time the cancer either went away or shrank, in the remaining 60% of dogs Palladia had no effect.


Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more information and tools to help your dog with cancer


Sigh.

If you would like to look at the original data for yourself, here is the link.

This highlights important points.

First, there is a big to do about Palladia.  But, the actual statistics are depressing.  Interesting contrast between hype and reality.

Second, I think most guardians of dogs afflicted with mast cell tumors would not be jumping for joy  at these numbers, in spite of the festivities at Pfizer.

Lastly, this shows how important it is to leap sideways in our efforts to really treat canine cancer.

The more I think about dog cancer, and disease in general, the more I believe early choices are key, long before old age.

I will start addressing how dog cancer does not start in old age, in future posts. Instead, it starts many, many years before hand. We need to start taking steps earlier, much earlier.

Best to all,

Dr D

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment





  1. maria Yatteau on August 27, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    Hello,
    My 15 year old chihuahua has mast cell carcinoma in her front left leg and it has spread to lymph nodes. The vet Oncologist started her on prednisone and after a week the goal was to start on palladia 3 times a week.
    Bella started throwing up and dark diarrhea just on the prednisone alone. We were wondering if the palladia is something we should try alone but we are worried that if something like prednisone messed up her stomach so violently that the Palladia would hurt her even worse and it really took weeks after taking her of the prednisone for her to get her appetite back.

  2. Andrea on June 9, 2020 at 4:02 am

    I have been very fortunate, in that my dog has had a good response to treatment with Palladia. She had her first growth (not yet diagnosed as MST) removed in February 2018. We biopsied the second growth when removing it in September 2018. Highest grade of MST. She underwent 5 more surgeries until I decided to get a second opinion when she again got more tumors. The bet recommended I have her see oncology at Purdue University. So we went in December 2019, and there she was diagnosed with metastatic disease. A CT scan showed nodules in her spleen and lungs. She also had lymph node involvement under her armpit (huge tumor) and another large tumor at the base of the tail. It was subcutaneous and ulcerated. She was started on 75mg of Palladia 3x/week that same month. Within a few treatments (plus a course of prednisone) her tumors you could palpate had essentially disappeared. She did develop episodes of diarrhea and vomiting, and was prescribed various drugs to counteract this such as flagyl and took a holiday from chemo for a week. Her dosage was reduced to 60mg and she has not had diarrhea or vomiting for several months. Yesterday, she took her 67th dose of Palladia, and we are at week 25 of treatment with no palpable masses. She has developed hypertension but it is controlled with meds. She also takes Benadryl, Pepcid, and Zofran on chemo days. We are hopeful that her metastatic growths have also shrunk. At her next follow up appointment next month, we are doing repeat imaging to see what is up. My pup is 11 and slowing down a bit due to arthritis, but otherwise has good quality of life. She has energy and enjoys running and playing outside. I say all of this to offer a positive story regarding the use of Palladia.

  3. Joan Bernes on February 26, 2020 at 4:36 am

    Would you recommend Fido Cure for a dog with
    Squamous cell carcinoma if the tonsils? She’s already been on chemo, radiation and oncologist wants to put her on Palladia ? Cancer is now
    Mastastic

    Would going to another oncologist to see if she is a candidate for Fido cure be best option for her
    Or shoujd we try Palladia . She can’t have radiation again until June. She’s eating and acting normal despite everything / just had third CT scan .
    How would you treat her and would you go to an oncologist that does Fido Cure? Any suggestions are appreciated . Her radiation was done at AMC
    Under Dr St Vincent, her oncologist is Dr Lachowicz at Blue Pearl

    Thank you

  4. Crystal Lantz on November 19, 2019 at 6:30 am

    My dog of mixed bull terror breed was diagnosed in early September with cancer it is now November and she is being treated with palladia among gabapenten benadryl and steroid how long will she survive do you believe?

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