AstraZeneca Unveils Data Behind Another Blockbuster Drug Victory

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(Bloomberg) – AstraZeneca Plc’s hit drug Tagrisso has reduced the risk of death from lung cancer or relapse by four-fifths over three years, according to detailed results of a study that increases the survival prospects of patients in the early stages of fatal disease.

According to research, adding Tagrisso to the diet of patients with early stage lung cancer who had undergone surgery reduced the risk of dying or recurring by 79% compared to placebo. The patients’ tumors also had a mutation in a cancer-related gene called EGFR. AstraZeneca will present the results at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology on Sunday, a month and a half after the trial stopped early due to its solid results.

Tagrisso is Astra’s largest product, with sales of $ 982 million in the first quarter of this year. According to Dave Fredrickson, vice president for global oncology, about 60,000 additional patients may be eligible for treatment if the drug is approved for early post-surgical lung cancer. Patients would take the drug for two to three years.

Strength of study results suggests most doctors will adopt therapy now as standard of care for this new set of patients, rather than waiting for additional data on overall survival, said Bloomberg analyst Sam Fazeli Intelligence, in a note.

On Friday, AstraZeneca jumped 3.4% in the first London exchanges. Shares of the Cambridge, England-based company have gained about 50% in the past year.

The most important implication of the trial is that it provides “a reason for earlier screening for patients with lung cancer,” said Fredrickson in an interview. “The best result we are looking for is the remedy. “

Early detection often does not currently take place because there are few therapies available compared to those for advanced lung cancer, he said.

After two years of treatment, 89% of the trial patients treated with Tagrisso remained alive and disease-free, compared to 53% on placebo, said Astra. The results were consistent whether the patients received chemotherapy with surgery or not.

The ASCO conference is a key event on the calendar of oncology researchers and physicians, with scientists showcasing their best work and unveiling the results of large-scale trials. This year’s meeting will be online due to the pandemic, with access to all meeting results available from Friday.

(Updates with analyst comment in fourth paragraph.)

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