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Boehringer seeks more indications for IPF drug

pharmafile | October 22, 2014 | News story | Research and Development, Sales and Marketing Boehringer, IPF, NSCLC, colectoral, crc, nintedanib, ofev 

Boehringer Ingelheim’s nintedanib has entered Phase III studies for the treatment of colorectal cancer (CRC), which could add to the versatile drug’s growing range of indications.

The treatment is also currently being tested in Phase III studies for ovarian cancer and Phase II studies for kidney and liver cancer, and mesothelioma.

It has also received a positive opinion from the EMA for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer in combination with docetaxel, following evidence that together the drugs can increase overall survival in patients by more than a year.

Most recently in a result that would have delighted the firm it was approved by the FDA for the treatment of the fatal lung disease Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), under the brand name Ofev.

Boehringer says that the new Phase III LUME-COLON 1 studies will evaluate nintedanib with best supportive care (BSC), versus placebo and BSC, in patients who have not been responding to chemotherapy along with other treatments.

Professor Klaus Dugi, chief medical officer at Boehringer Ingelheim, adds: “There is a significant need to improve treatment options for patients with advanced colorectal cancer and Boehringer Ingelheim is proud to conduct further research into this disease area.”

Boehringer has been looking to expand into oncology in general following the receipt of its first approval last year for its non-small cell lung cancer treatment Giotrif (afatinib).

Nintedanib, which works by inhibiting receptors involved in tumour growth, will face stiff competition from all sides as it enters the market, especially as the CRC market alone is worth €13.1 billion in the EU.

Erbitux (cetuximab) from Merck and Avastin (bevacizumab) from Roche, two of the most requested drugs on the Cancer Drugs Fund in the UK, are both approved for the disease. Avastin made $3.4 billion in the first half of the year. AstraZeneca, Sanofi, Lilly and Gilead all in addition have CRC drugs in their pipelines.

Meanwhile, on the same day that nintedanib was approved for the treatment of IPF in the US, its rival Esbriet (pirfenidone) was also shown the green light.

Esbriet, also from Roche, had previously been the only treatment available for IPF in the world following its European approval in 2011, but nintedanib’s US greenlight suggests that it could face Esbriet in the EU market too in the future.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the world, with around 1.4 million new cases diagnosed each year. IT has a poor prognosis, with fewer than 10% of patients surviving for more than five years after diagnosis.

George Underwood

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