Pronounced Al-ess-en-za

Alecensa, also known as alectinib, is a prescription medicine used to treat adults with a type of lung cancer called anaplastic lymphoma kinase positive (ALK+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

About 5% of non-small cell lung cancer cases are ALK+, which means there is a rearrangement in a gene called the ALK gene. This produces an abnormal type of protein that causes cells to grow and spread.

Alecensa belongs to a group of cancer medicines, called ALK inhibitors, that block ALK activity. It comes in the form of 150mg capsules and the recommended dosage is four capsules twice a day.

Ask your doctor if Alecensa is right for you.

Have you been tested for anaplastic lymphoma kinase positive (ALK+) NSCLC?

To establish if you have an ALK+ mutation (gene rearrangement) causing your lung cancer, your doctor can request a special type of test for you that involves analysing a sample of your tumour tissue. This will determine whether Alecensa is likely to be suitable for your cancer type.
Not all patients in New Zealand with NSCLC are tested for the ALK rearrangement. If you’re not sure if you’ve had one of these tests, talk to your doctor who will be able to advise you.

Clinical trial data

In a large clinical trial called the ALEX study, Alecensa was compared to another medicine for people newly diagnosed with advanced or metastatic ALK+ NSCLC, called crizotinib.

The study showed that in the group of people taking Alecensa, their cancer was controlled for more than twice as long (34.8 months), without growing or spreading, compared to people taking crizotinib (10.9 months).

Alecensa was also able to shrink the size of tumours that had spread to the brain in 81% of patients, compared to 50% of patients using crizotinib.

Possible side effects of Alecensa

All medicines can have side effects. You’ll find a list of possible side effects in the Consumer Medicines Information here.

Always talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

How to access Alecensa

Alecensa is registered by Medsafe, but not funded by PHARMAC. This means you will have to pay for this medicine.

Paying for treatment requires careful thought. If you have health insurance, carefully check what’s covered — every health insurance provider has different rules and benefits that cover cancer treatment, surgery, tests and doctor appointments.

Even though Alecensa is only available by paying for it yourself, any doctor is able to prescribe it to you, not just those working in a private hospital setting.

Your doctor will be able to give you more information regarding the cost of your treatment and whether it is suitable for your type of lung cancer.

Ready to take the next step?

Because every situation is different, it’s important to speak to your doctor to find out if Alecensa is right for you.

If you’re now considering treatment with Alecensa

We’ve put together a discussion guide to help you begin a conversation with your doctor. Print it off, take it along to your next appointment, and take notes in the spaces provided.

Talking to your doctor about Alecensa

Handy resources

Alecensa Consumer Medicine Information
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Alecensa® (alectinib) 150mg capsules is a Prescription Medicine used for the treatment of adults with ALK-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer.
Do not use Alecensa if: you or your partner are pregnant or you are breastfeeding.
Tell your doctor if: you have liver problems; you have lactose or galactose intolerance, congenital lactase deficiency or glucose-galactose malabsorption; you are planning a pregnancy or plan to breastfeed. Tell your doctor if you are taking any medicines.
Tell your doctor immediately or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre if you notice any of the following: shortness of breath or difficulty breathing with cough and/or fever; yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes; slow heart beat; new or worsening of muscle pain/problems that don’t go away, tenderness or weakness; decreased urine output with swelling of legs, ankles, and around eyes with confusion, tiredness, nausea, chest pain or pressure.
Possible common side effects may also include: rash including increased sensitivity to sunlight (follow sun protection guidelines); diarrhoea and constipation, nausea and/or vomiting; tiredness, dizziness; swelling of hands, feet, legs or around eyes; eye problems like blurred or impaired vision, black dots or white spots in your vision or double-vision; headache, inflammation in your mouth, change of sense of taste, and weight gain. Alecensa has risks and benefits. Ask your doctor if Alecensa is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional. For further information on Alecensa, please talk to your health professional or visit for Alecensa Consumer Medicine Information.

Alecensa is an unfunded medicine. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

Dated 30 August 2018.