Halaven: new breast cancer treatment

Halaven (eribulin) has been launched by Eisai for the treatment of advanced or metastatic breast cancer refractory to other chemotherapy regimens.

Eribulin binds to a unique site on tubulin
Eribulin binds to a unique site on tubulin


Eribulin is a non-taxane inhibitor of microtubule dynamics, with a novel mechanism of action. It is a simplified synthetic analogue of halichondrin B, a natural product isolated from the marine sponge Halichondria okadai. Eribulin works by binding to tubulin and causing sequestration into non-functional aggregates, leading to irreversible mitotic block and inhibition of cancer cell division.1


Efficacy of eribulin was shown in the open-label EMBRACE study, in which 762 patients were randomised to receive eribulin or treatment of physician’s choice (TPC). Overall survival was significantly improved in women assigned to eribulin (median 13.1 months, 95% CI 11.8-14.3) compared with those assigned to TPC (10.6 months, 95% CI 9.3-12.5; p=0.041).2

The most common adverse effects reported in trials were fatigue, neutropenia, nausea and peripheral neuropathy.


  1. Halaven Summary of Product Characteristics, March 2011.
  2. Cortes J et al. Lancet 2011; 377: 914–23.

View Haleven drug record

Further information: Eisai

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