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Fox Chase Cancer Center Doctors Prescribe Newly Approved Pain Drug

PHILADELPHIA (May 6, 1999) -- The new and highly effective oral pain medication Actiq (Ak'-tik) is now available by prescription. The recent approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides Fox Chase Cancer Center doctors with a new weapon in treating breakthrough pain suffered by half of all cancer patients already on round-the-clock medications.

Described as a lozenge with a handle, the medication works by absorption through the lining of the cheek directly into the bloodstream. This allows for quicker relief of breakthrough pain. Breakthrough cancer pain is a flare of severe cancer pain, which " breaks through" the medication that is already being administered at regular intervals for persistent cancer pain.

"This is the only medication available for quick pain relief short of an injection," said Michael H. Levy, director of Fox Chase Cancer Center's pain management clinic. "Pain control is every cancer patient's right."

Breakthrough cancer pain is particularly difficult to treat due to its unpredictable, severe, and rapid onset. Approximately 50 percent of all cancer pain patients, more than 800,000 patients in the United States, experience breakthrough cancer pain.

Actiq is the first product specifically designed and studied for breakthrough cancer pain. Available only to adults by prescription, Actiq is indicated only for patients with chronic cancer pain, requiring around the clock opioid analgesis. The most common side effects observed with Actiq are drowsiness, nausea, vomiting and dizziness, which are generally associated with opioid therapy.

"Pain control should be convenient and work quickly," adds Levy. "Relieving a person's pain helps restore their dignity."

Fox Chase Cancer Center is one of 35 National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the nation. Fox Chase activities include basic and clinical research; prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer; and community outreach programs.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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