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Daily Brief: Tagrisso's first line approval, EULAR and EHA, and why Stephen Hawking was wrong on NHS

A rapid round up of today's pharma, biotech and healthcare news

Hello and welcome to Monday’s Daily Brief.

RA and blood disorders in the spotlight

In the pharma industry world, congress season is in full swing, and two big European meetings take place this week .

Rheumatology congress EULAR convenes in Amsterdam (pictured) from Wednesday, with data being presented across a range of inflammatory disorders.  One category to watch is the JAK inhibitors, including AbbVie’s phase III candidate upadacitinib - analysts predict these drugs will seize share from older drugs such as Amgen/Pfizer’s Enbrel.

Amsterdam

Meanwhile Europe’s big haematology symposium EHA kicks off on Thursday in Stockholm. Some of the most eyecatching data is likely to include updates from Novartis on its CAR-T therapy Kymriah in DLBCL and r/r B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) plus bluebird’s LentiGlobin cell therapy in β-Thalassemia and severe Sickle Cell Disease.

We’ll be keeping you posted on the highlights from both congresses, including coverage onsite from EHA.

Tagrisso set to dominate in EGFR lung cancer with first line approvals

Tagrisso has gained European approval as a first line treatment for lung cancer patients with EGFR mutations, further confirming the drug’s star status among AstraZeneca’s new cancer therapies.

This adds to the FDA approval in this setting it gained in April, and data from the phase III FLAURA trial showed it produced significantly better progression free survival in a head-to-head with existing EGFR drugs, Roche’s Tarceva and AstraZeneca’s own Iressa.

The results means the drug is predicted to dominate the category in the coming years. AstraZeneca sees lots of room for growth, especially China and other Asian markets where there are a high proportion (30-40%) of Asian NSCLC patients who the EGFR mutation at diagnosis.

Dr. David Planchard, Associate Professor of Medicine, Head of Thoracic Group, Gustave Roussy cancer center, France said: “The FLAURA trial is changing medical practice in the first line treatment of EGFR-mutated NSCLC. The progression-free survival benefit seen in the trial is unprecedented for patients with an EGFR mutation, and this benefit was consistent across all subgroups including in patients with or without central nervous system metastases. Further, the preliminary overall survival data, while not statistically significant at the time of the interim analysis, is promising, with a 37% reduction in the risk of death.”

Stephen Hawking got it wrong - integrated care is the way forward for NHS

The goal of combining England’s health and social care into integrated care organisations (ICOs) is the right way forward – but the government needs to communicate its vision more effectively.

That is the conclusion of the influential House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee, which has just published its report on ICOs, which have previously been known as Accountable Care Systems.

These new organisations have hit two big obstacles. The first is that there has been little appetite for new legislation for the NHS, after sweeping changes made in 2012, but the lack of a legal framework is hampering the ICOs from making faster progress.

Secondly, there has been considerable resistance against the changes, with campaigners claiming ICOs/ACSs are another backdoor privatisation of the NHS.

This famously included Stephen Hawking, who joined four other individuals to mount a legal challenge to the ICOs/ACS before his death in March this year. The campaigners said the changes would ‘Americanise’ the NHS and allow private firms to cherry pick contracts for services. The legal challenge went ahead and was heard in the High Court in May, and the remaining JR4NS campaigners are now awaiting the verdict.

The Department of Health had dismissed the challenge as “irresponsible scaremongering,” and the Commons committee has broadly agreed. It points out that the ICO plans will in fact replace the NHS internal market which has fragmented services and encouraged competition rather than collaboration.

Sarah Woollaston

The committee chair Dr Sarah Woollaston MP (pictured) said new legislation was needed, but that frontline organisations should contribute to its drafting to ensure buy-in and the right direction is taken. It also said the goverment needed to communicate its plans better - and show that the changes would benefits patients.

Dr Wollaston said: “As the NHS approaches its 70th birthday national leaders, and politicians from across the political spectrum at national and local level, must help to make the case for change to the public. Any effort to transform care will flounder and lose support unless it can demonstrate that patients and their families will benefit.”

Read the full commmittee report here:

Integrated care: organisations, partnerships and systems

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

11th June 2018

From: Marketing

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