Pfizer's drug against advanced lung cancer shows promising ends in long-term studies

CHELSEA — Pfizer on Friday said his drug for a complicated type of Lung cancer has shown promising long-term ends in a late-stage study that would help establish the treatment as a brand new standard of take care of this disease.

The medicine of the corporate helped patients live longer without the cancer getting worse, and most of the people benefited for greater than five years. The drug, called Lorbrena, also reduced the danger of cancer progressing in patients' brains.

Lorbrena is already approved within the US for the treatment of adults with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who a mutation in a gene called ALK. Only around 5% of patients with non-small cell lung cancer have this mutation, which results in abnormal growth and spread of cancer cells.

However, that signifies that 72,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with this particular type of lung cancer annually, in response to a Pfizer press release. This cancer is usually aggressive and sometimes affects younger people, the corporate added.

In a broader sense, non-small cell lung cancer is a typical type of the disease.

Lorbrena is specifically approved as a first-line treatment for this way of lung cancer, meaning patients taking it haven’t received every other therapy. But Pfizer's drug just isn’t currently considered standard treatment – or essentially the most appropriate and widely used – for this disease.

The company expects this to vary with the brand new five-year data on the drug.

“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] “It will become a standard first-line treatment for this particular form of lung cancer,” said Chris Boshoff, chief oncologist at Pfizer, in an interview with CNBC.

The new five-year data come from the same Phase 3 study that led to the approval of Lorbrena in the USA. Pfizer will present the results on Friday at American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual meeting in Chicago, the largest cancer research conference in the world. The data were also published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Nearly 300 people in the study received either Lorbrena or Pfizer's older lung cancer drug SolutionAfter five years, 50% of patients in the study were still receiving Lorbrena, compared with 5% of people receiving Xalkori.

In the study, Lorbrena reduced the risk of developing cancer or death by 81% after five years compared to Xalkori.

About 60% of patients treated with Lorbrena survived after this period without their cancer getting worse, compared to only 8% of patients taking Xalkori.

Dr. David Spigel, scientific director of the Sarah Cannon Research Institute, called these results “the best we have ever seen” during a press conference ahead of the ASCO conference.

“We've never seen anything that comes close to this. Durable, progression-free survival events of this magnitude have not been seen with other great drugs that are out there,” Spigel said, referring to the speed of people that stayed alive without their cancer getting worse.

He identified that there are not any head-to-head studies between Pfizer's Lorbrena and competing lung cancer drugs, including alectinib and brigatinib.

All three are called ALK inhibitors and are designed to dam the mutations within the ALK gene which can be related to abnormal cancer cell growth. Lorbrena is taken into account a brand new third-generation ALK inhibitor, while its two competitors are second-generation.

But Spigel added that it was “hard to believe” that Lorbrena would perform worse in a direct comparison with these drugs.

Pfizer's other drug, Xalkori, can be an ALK inhibitor, but isn’t any longer utilized in the US

Lung cancer with the “ALK-positive” mutation can be particularly liable to spreading to the brain. About 1 / 4 or more of patients can develop brain metastases – when cancer cells spread from their original a part of the body to the brain – throughout the first two years after diagnosis.

Lorbrena reduced the danger of developing brain cancer by 94 percent in comparison with Pfizer's old drug. Only 4 of the 114 patients taking Lorbrena developed brain metastases inside about 16 months, compared with 39 of the 109 patients taking Xalkori.

Lorbrena is effective in stopping and treating brain metastases because it could actually cross a membrane called the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, something not all medicines can do.

Spigel called this one other “stunning finding” because the event within the brain “is pretty bad for patients and we are desperately trying to prevent or treat it.”

No recent issues of safety were reported for Lorbrena. The most typical unintended effects included swelling, weight gain, changes in perception and mood, and high blood cholesterol.

But Spigel described the cognitive problems related to Lorbrena as “unusual” because they should not seen in its competitors.

In a note Thursday ahead of the info's release, Dr. Andrew Berens, an analyst at Leerink Partners, said he believes Lorbrena's central nervous system unintended effects are partly why it is usually used as a second-line moderately than first-line treatment for this advanced type of lung cancer. These changes in cognition and mood result in “a lower quality of life for patients,” he said.

However, Pfizer's Boshoff said that when doctors start using Lorbrena for the primary time, they will likely be higher capable of address any specific unintended effects of the drug.

He noted that training doctors to cope with unintended effects will likely be a very important a part of the “relaunch” of Lorbrena after the publication of the brand new data.

image credit :