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Janssen, AZ and Roche at ESMO

Companies present promising data on new cancer drugs
esmo congress madrid

Several pharma companies used the recent European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2014 Congress in Madrid, Spain, to present key data on cancer drugs.

Major announcements included new data on pembrolizumab and nivolumab - the anti-PD1 immunotherapies from Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), both of which have shown promise in a variety of cancers including bladder cancer.

Elsewhere, Janssen posted new data that backs the earlier use of its oncology drug Zytiga (abiraterone acetate) in men with prostate cancer.

According to the company, new data from a final analysis of the phase III COU-AA-302 trial demonstrates that Zytiga plus prednisone can significantly prolong overall survival in men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer who have yet to undergo chemotherapy.

The median overall survival for the Zytiga arm was 34.7 months compared to 30.3 months for the placebo arm.

This data could support a change of heart from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence's (NICE), which published guidance in May this year recommending against the use of Zytiga in this earlier indication as current data did demonstrate the drug was a cost-effective use of resources.

Roche's skin cancer combination
As seen on the PMLiVE Top Pharma List Roche is by far the leading pharma company working in oncology.

In addition to using ESMO to post data that suggests Perjeta (pertuzumab) should be the new standard in breast cancer, the company also presented positive results for its investigational MEK inhibitor cobimetinib in combination with BRAF inhibitor Zelboraf (vemurafenib) in a form of skin cancer.

Results from the CoBRIM study showed that the combination can extend progression-free survival by 9.9 months compared to 6.2 months following treatment of Zelboraf alone in patients with advanced melanoma.

The study also found that the tumour response to treatment was higher in the combination compared to vemurafenib alone at 68% compared to 45%.

AstraZeneca gets personal in lung cancer
AstraZeneca is another company with big ambitions in cancer - especially in more personalised treatments, as discussed by their head of oncology R&D Susan Galbraith in an interview with PMLiVE.

Among the data presented by the company at ESMO were updated results from the AURA study investigating the AZD9291, an inhibitor of both activating sensitising EGFRm and the resistance mutation T790M.

New data posted at ESMO shows “encouraging” median progression free survival of 9.6 months in patients with EGFRm and T790M+ who have advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has progressed following treatment with an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor, such as AZ's Iressa (gefitinib).

The results are important for AZ due to the failure of phase III IMPRESS study, which was designed to compare the efficacy and safety of continuing Iressa, combined with cisplatin and pemetrexed up to six cycles, versus placebo in NSCLC patients who developed resistance to first line treatment with Iressa. The study did not meet its primary endpoint of a statistically significant improvement in progression free survival.

Article by
Thomas Meek

30th September 2014

From: Research

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