New drug boost for AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca’s oncology business received a boost as results of a clinical trial show its drug Lynparza helped women with ovarian cancer live longer without their disease worsening when given as a first-line treatment.

The result should pave the way for expanded use of the medicine.

Analysts said first-line use could boost Lynparza sales by more than £1 billion a year, although experts will first want to see the scale of the clinical benefit when full results are presented at a medical meeting.

Lynparza is already approved for later use in patients with so-called BRCA genetic mutations. Its latest success could expand the number of women with newly diagnosed ovarian cancer who are suitable for the drug by 30-50 percent, AstraZeneca believes.

Lynparza – abandoned at one stage by AstraZeneca but revived by CEO Pascal Soriot when he took over in 2012 – became the first drug in a class known as PARP inhibitors to reach the market when it won U.S. approval at the end of 2014.

Based on the strong results seen in the latest Phase III study, known as SOLO-1, AstraZeneca and Merck said they would talk to regulators about approving the earlier use of the medicine in women with BRCA mutations, which can drive tumor growth.

“It is the first time that we see a significant and clinically impactful improvement in progression-free survival in the first-line maintenance setting for women with BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer treated with a PARP inhibitor,” said Sean Bohen, chief medical officer at AstraZeneca.

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