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AZ’s combo woes continue, with failure in lung cancer

Published on 24/04/18 at 08:37am

AstraZeneca has been hit by a fresh blow in its search for an immunotherapy combination treatment that could differentiate it from its rivals, after a trial in patients with locally-advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, who had received at least two treatment prior treatments, failed to meet its mark.

The trial tested Imfinzi alongside tremelimumab but the combination, just as in the notorious Mystic trial, failed to hit its endpoints.

Unlike in the previous trial, AZ’s share price was largely untroubled by the news, down by 0.8%, which comes nowhere close to the 16% drop suffered on the first read out of Mystic.

The latest results to emerge from this combination are largely negative, with it failing to improve progression-free survival or overall survival against standard of care.

Sean Bohen, Executive Vice President, Global Medicines Development and Chief Medical Officer, said: “While we are disappointed that the combination of Imfinzi plus tremelimumab did not result in a statistically-significant survival benefit in this heavily pre-treated patient population, we are encouraged by the activity of Imfinzi monotherapy observed in this trial and look forward to presenting the full data from the ARCTIC trial at an upcoming medical meeting.”

As mentioned by Bohen, the saving grace of the study is that it did show, in a sub-study, a reduction in the risk of death for Imfinzi as a monotherapy when compared with standard treatment.

The major takeaway from the study is the potential need for AZ to go back to the drawing board on what to pair Imfinzi with; however, it is by no means the first such combination failure in the industry, with MSD’s Keytruda failing in Phase 3 alongside Incyte’s epacadostat at the beginning of this month.

There are still the ultimate readouts from the Mystic trial due, looking into potential overall survival benefit, but based on these latest results, it doesn’t bode well for success; these results have already been pushed back from the first half of this year to the second half.

Ben Hargreaves

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