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.

Have you been tested for ALK+ NSCLC?

To establish if an ALK mutation (gene rearrangement) is causing your lung cancer, your doctor needs to request a special type of genetic test designed to detect if the ALK gene rearrangement is present in your tumour. If the ALK gene rearrangement is detected, Alecensa is likely to be a suitable treatment for your cancer.
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 crizotinib (another medication used to treat ALK+ lung cancer), in people newly diagnosed with advanced or metastatic ALK+ NSCLC

The study showed that people taking Alecensa, had their cancer controlled for more than 3 times as long (34.8 months), without growing or spreading, compared to the group taking crizontinib (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

From 1st December 2019, Alecensa is fully funded by PHARMAC for those who meet pre-defined criteria. For more information talk to your doctor.

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
Click Here
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Alecensa (alectinib) 150mg capsules is a Prescription Medicine used for the treatment of adults with ALKpositive advanced nonsmall 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 glucosegalactose malabsorption, you are planning a pregnancy or plan to breastfeed. Tell your doctor if you are taking any other 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 dont 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 doublevision headache, inflammation in your mouth, change of sense of taste, and weight gain

Alecensa has risks and benefits. 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 a PHARMAC funded medicine for patients with ALKpositive nonsmall cell lung cancer who meet predefined criteria. A prescription charge may apply.

Dated 7 November 2019.