Novartis' Femara (letrozole), one of a new class of breast cancer drugs, worked better than standard therapy with tamoxifen in treating breast cancer in women with advanced disease. Femara is a member of a new class of drugs called aromatase inhibitors, which work differently to prevent certain kinds of breast cancer than does tamoxifen.
This new drug, Letrozole shrank tumors better and helped more women survive. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Femara as first-line hormonal treatment for advanced breast cancer in postmenopausal women. At that time, an FDA advisory panel enthusiastically backed Femara based on Novartis' research comparing the drug with a generic version of tamoxifen, the gold standard treatment for advanced breast cancer.
Femara was initially approved by the FDA in 1997 as treatment for advanced, hormonally sensitive breast cancer that had not responded to other treatments. Novartis believes Femara may also have potential early in the course of breast cancer and is studying the drug as a pre-surgical therapy.