Healthy returns: Pharmaceutical firms publish promising data on cancer drugs – and AstraZeneca wins

Good morning! I’m back in New York City after spending last weekend in Chicago for the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

More than 5,000 research abstracts were presented or published at ASCO, including data on existing drugs, experimental treatments, AI tools, and concepts for improving patient care.

Here are some data highlights and comments from management on the larger firms I follow:

AstraZeneca wins big:

  • The company’s second best-selling drug, Tagrisso, reduces the chance of disease progression or death by 84% compared with placebo in patients with stage three non-small cell lung cancer attributable to mutations in a gene called EGFR, in keeping with recent late-stage trials. The treatment kept the disease under control for a median of three years – or 39 months – while patients who received a placebo had a median progression-free survival of about five months.
  • told me: “We have patients who are almost three years away from learning that their disease has progressed, and half of them haven't even heard that news yet. That means that if we continue to pursue this study, we can hope to see long-term, durable responses that we can call a cure.”
  • David Spigel, chief scientific officer of the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, said during a press conference last week that the info on Tagrisso would “change practice.”
  • Immunotherapy Imfinzi from AstraZeneca reduces the chance of death by 27% in comparison with placebo in patients with limited-stage small cell lung cancer following chemoradiotherapy, in keeping with one other advanced-stage trial. Presentations of the Tagrisso and Imfinzi trials received a standing ovation at ASCO.
  • Meanwhile, AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s targeted cancer drug Enhertu reduces the chance of progression or death by 38% in comparison with chemotherapy in women with a certain variety of metastatic breast cancer (patients with low expression of a protein called HER2). All patients within the late-stage study had received not less than one prior endocrine therapy.
  • TDCowen analyst Steve Scala wrote in a note Thursday that AstraZeneca's “wealth of positive data” at ASCO underpins the corporate's $80 billion revenue goal by 2030.

Pfizer shows his bet on cancer:

  • Pfizer's drug Lorbrena helped patients live longer without their cancer progressing. According to data from an advanced-stage study, most patients felt this profit for over five years. The drug also reduced the chance of cancer progressing in patients' brains.
  • told me: “In cancer medicine in general, you always want to give the best drug first. That is why we believe that these data … will lead to [Lorbrena] has become a standard first-line treatment for this specific form of lung cancer.
  • A treatment regimen that included Pfizer's targeted cancer drug Adcetris reduces the risk of death by 37% compared with chemotherapy alone in patients with a certain type of lymphoma, detailed data from a late-stage study show.

Merck, Modern impress with additional data on cancer vaccines:

  • The personalized cancer vaccine in combination with the immunotherapy Keytruda, which is being closely monitored by Merck and Moderna, improved the chances of survival and showed long-lasting effectiveness in a mid-stage study in patients with severe forms of melanoma. The overall survival rate of patients who received the vaccine in combination with Keytruda was 96 percent after 2.5 years. By comparison, the survival rate for patients who received Keytruda alone was 90.2 percent.
  • told me, “When we look at the three-year updates, what's really exciting to me is the durability of that data.”
  • told me that progress in a Phase 3 trial of the combination as a treatment for late-stage melanoma was so far “ahead of our plans.”

Bristol-Myers SquibbThe treatment combination is promising as a first-line treatment for liver cancer:

  • Treatment with the corporate’s immunotherapies Opdivo and Yervoy reduces the chance of death compared with standard treatments (either Lenvima from Merck and Eisai or Nexavar from Bayer) in patients with previously untreated advanced liver cancer, in keeping with data from late-stage clinical trials. Median overall survival was 23.7 months for patients taking the mix, compared with 20.6 months with either of the opposite two drugs.
  • Meanwhile, Bristol Myers Squibb's lung cancer pill Krazati delayed tumor growth in a late-stage clinical trial by nearly two months. Patients who received the drug lived a median of 5.5 months before their cancer progressed or they died. In comparison, the median survival time for patients who received chemotherapy was 3.8 months.

Johnson & Johnson presents a more practical version of Rybrevant:

  • J&J presented recent data from advanced trials of an injectable version of its lung cancer drug Treatment Rybrevant together with a drug called Lazertinib. The study showed that the injectable form comparable to the approved version in patients with a certain variety of non-small cell lung cancer. (The approved type of the drug is given via an intravenous infusion, which may be lengthy and cumbersome for patients.) The company plans to hunt approval within the U.S. for the injectable version of Rybrevant.

Eli Lilly presents revised oncology pipeline:

  • During an event at ASCO, Eli Lilly gave investors a glimpse of experimental drugs in late- and early-stage development in its oncology pipeline, in addition to updates on its existing cancer treatments, including Verzenio and Jaypirca. It comes five years after the corporate announced the Acquisition of Loxo Oncologywhich initiated a reorganization of the cancer division (and at the moment entailed the closure of much of Eli Lilly's product pipeline).
  • told me that the windfall from Eli Lilly's popular obesity and diabetes drugs was a tide that lifted all boats, including the corporate's oncology business: “Another thing that certainly isn't fully appreciated is that the success the company is having right now with the incretin portfolio, both for patients and financially, I think really puts Lilly in a unique position to invest in other things.”

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Latest technology in healthcare

Patients with musculoskeletal disorders who prefer to stay of their pajamas received some welcome news Wednesday: They can receive meaningful care from the comfort of their very own home, in keeping with a brand new report from the Peterson Health Technology Institute.

PHTI is a nonprofit organization that conducts independent evaluations of digital health solutions. For its latest report, PHTI reviewed virtual musculoskeletal tools from Hinge Health, Sword Health, Omada Health, DarioHealth, Kaia Health, RecoveryOne, Limber Health and Vori Health.

Musculoskeletal disorders limit a patient's mobility and may affect joints, bones and muscles. These conditions are sometimes related to pain and may be treated with medication, surgery or a type of rehabilitation equivalent to physical therapy.

According to PHTI, roughly one in three people within the United States suffers from musculoskeletal disorders, they usually account for nearly 10% of the country's medical spending. a publication Wednesday.

The organization wanted to research whether existing virtual tools reduce healthcare costs or provide meaningful advantages to patients. PHTI found that several of the solutions “provide patients with clinical benefits comparable to in-person physical therapy,” the press release said.

To assess the clinical and economic performance of the instruments, PHTI says it reviewed over 2,000 scientific articles and obtained feedback from experts and patients.

The organization has divided the solutions into three categories: physical therapist-led solutions (Sword, Hinge, Omada, Vori and RecoveryOne), app-based movement therapy with limited physical therapist involvement (Dario, Kaia) and distant therapy monitoring solutions designed to enrich in-person care (Limber).

PHTI said it found that the physical therapist-led solutions improve patient functionality and pain in a way that’s comparable to in-person physical therapy. This means patients who use these solutions from home can expect similar results to patients who receive their treatment in person.

While app-based exercise therapies reduce patients' pain and improve their function, these tools are usually not effective enough to switch in-person care, the report said. In addition, PHTI said that while there is restricted evidence on the effectiveness of distant monitoring tools for therapy, when combined with in-person physical therapy, they supply higher clinical outcomes than in-person therapy alone.

Physical therapist-led solutions also reduce net spending, in keeping with the report. Remote monitoring tools increase net spending, in keeping with PHTI, and no pricing data was available for app-based exercise therapies.

PHTI said that based on its review, virtual musculoskeletal tools successfully provide “significant improvements in pain and function compared to usual care.” The virtual tools may help improve access to treatment, particularly for patients who’re older, live in rural areas or cannot easily drive to a clinic, PHTI said.

You can read the complete report from PHTI Here.

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