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New data could put Roche’s Tecentriq first in squamous lung cancer

NSCLC patients on the drug saw a reduced risk of disease progression

Roche

Roche’s Tecentriq has met its targets in a clinical trial involving previously-untreated people with a form of advanced squamous lung cancer, stealing a march on its immuno-oncology rivals.

The phase III IMpower131 study showed that adding the PD-L1 inhibitor to standard first-line chemotherapy with carboplatin and Celgene’s Abraxane (nab-paclitaxel) in patients with advanced squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) reduced the risk of disease worsening or death compared to chemotherapy alone.

There has been no impact on overall survival so far, the trial’s other primary endpoint, and Roche says it is continuing the study as planned. According to clinicaltrials.gov the primary completion date for the study is in August with follow-up until February 2023.

Analysts at Jefferies say the data gives Tecentriq (atezolizumab) a potential first-to-market position in this form of lung cancer - which accounts for 25-30% of all NSCLC cases - and is “an important study for Roche” as it tries to build momentum behind its product in the increasingly competitive immuno-oncology category.

They estimate that squamous NSCLC is a much more complicated disease than non-squamous NSCLC - a category currently dominated by Merck & Co/MSD’s PD-1 drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) - and could become a $1.1bn market for Tecentriq at peak.

IMpower131 is the second positive phase III trial for Roche’s PD-L1 inhibitor plus chemotherapy in NSCLC, as Tecentriq has also shown activity in first-line non-squamous NSCLC in the IMpower150 study which compared Tecentriq plus carboplatin and paclitaxel, with or without Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab) to the chemotherapy/Avastin combination.

Roche “remains the only company with a full set of phase III chemo-combo studies covering all the major chemo regimes used in [first-line] NSCLC,” says the analysts. The drugmaker claims it has eight phase III lung cancer studies underway evaluating Tecentriq alone or in combination with other medicines and five are expected to report this year.

“Squamous non-small cell lung cancer is difficult to treat and there have been limited new treatment options over the last few decades,” said Sandra Horning, Roche’s chief medical officer.

“We will share the IMpower131 results with global health authorities and we look forward to seeing more mature overall survival data.”

Article by
Phil Taylor

20th March 2018

From: Research

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