AZ and Merck’s ovarian cancer combo improves progression-free survival

pharmafile | September 30, 2019 | News story | Sales and Marketing  

AstraZeneca and Merck have announced that their combination treatment for newly diagnosed ovarian cancer significantly improved progression free survival.

The study itself tested Lynparza (olaparib) in patients as an adjunctive to an already existing standard of care, that being Roche’s Avastin (bevacizumab).

Researchers found that adding Lynparza to Avastin cut the risk of disease progression or death by a whopping 41% patients, regardless of whether they had a BRCA mutation.

Lynparza patients also went a median of 22.1 months without seeing their disease worsen while those on Avastin plus placebo only managed to go 16.6 months.

Both Merck and AstraZeneca are now racing to get the data in front of global regulators in the hopes of winning an approval. If they do, it will be the second score for Lynparza in the first-line ovarian cancer maintenance setting, where it is also approved alone for women with BRCA mutations.

Lynparza’s sales hit $520 million in the first half of 2019 which meant an increase of 93% over the same period last year.

Lynparza now currently faces competition from other drugs such as GlaxoSmithKline’s Zejula, for which the company unveiled positive results showing the drug cut patients’ risk of disease worsening by 38%, which unlike Lynparza produced the results by itself.

With both parties now headed towards regulatory approvals, it will come down to doctors to look across trials and make their decision.

Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President and Global Head of AstraZeneca’s Oncology Business Unit, said: “I think one of the things that we’ve learned in oncology is that typically we get the best outcomes by finding drugs that we can combine together – drugs that have additive efficacy with non-overlapping toxicity.

“Certainly there’s a different side effect profile than having Lynparza by itself, but we think the benefit-risk on this is clear.”

Nik Kiran

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