New British lung cancer drug from AstraZeneca is hailed as a ‘game changer’
New UK lung cancer drug from AstraZeneca hailed as a ‘game changer’ that could cut risk of death in half
A ‘groundbreaking’ British drug could halve the risk of dying from lung cancer, research shows.
The groundbreaking study found that patients who received osimertinib after surgery were 51 percent more likely to be alive five years later than those who received a dummy pill.
The daily tablets target non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors in people with a specific genetic mutation, meaning they no longer respond to previous treatments.
Made by British drug company AstraZeneca, the drug is available to patients through the Cancer Drugs Fund.
But researchers said the ‘exciting’ findings should pave the way for routine use on the NHS.
A ‘groundbreaking’ British drug could halve the risk of dying from lung cancer, study has shown (File image)
The daily tablets target non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors in people with a specific genetic mutation, meaning they no longer respond to previous treatments
The drug costs around £5,770 per bottle of 30 tablets, although the NHS will pay less under a confidential agreement.
Osimertinib, one of a new generation of precision drugs, is effective for patients whose lung cancer is caused by a mutation in their epidermal growth factor receptor gene. About 10 to 15 percent of lung cancers in the UK are caused by an EGFR mutation, with these patients usually having minimal to no smoking history.
The global Adaura study, led by Yale University, involved nearly 700 patients who had stage 1 to 3 cancer, meaning it had not spread to other organs.
All had had surgery for the disease, and about two-thirds had no history of smoking. About half were given the drug, which bears the brand name Tagrisso, every day for three years, while the rest were given a placebo because no other treatment is available.
When followed up two years after stopping treatment, 12 percent of those taking the medication had died, compared to 22 percent on the dummy medication.
Dr. Nathan Pennell, from ASCO, said: ‘It’s hard to convey how important this finding is and how long it’s taken to get here’
Researchers said the ‘exciting’ findings should pave the way for routine use on the NHS
The groundbreaking study found that patients given osimertinib after surgery were 51 percent more likely to be alive five years later than those given a dummy pill (File image)
In a double boost for patients, previous research found the drug also halves the chance of the disease coming back. Study leader Dr. Roy Herbst, deputy director of the Yale Cancer Center in the US, told the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago that the survival benefits were “exciting.”
He added: ‘Thirty years ago we couldn’t do anything for these patients, not even 20 years ago.
“Now that we have this powerful drug, we’re using it early on. This exceeded our high expectations.
“Fifty percent is a big problem with any disease, but especially with a disease like lung cancer, which is usually very resistant to therapies.” Angela Terry, chair of the charity EGFR Positive UK, said the findings were ‘very exciting and hugely important’.
She said: ‘An overall five-year survival rate of 88 percent is incredibly positive news for EGFR-mutated NSCLC patients.
‘Having access to a drug whose efficacy has been proven and whose side effects are tolerable means that patients can enjoy a good quality of life for longer.’
Dr. Nathan Pennell, from ASCO, said: ‘It’s hard to convey how important this finding is and how long it’s taken to get here. This shows an unequivocal, very significant improvement in survival.’
An NHS spokesperson said: ‘The NHS continues to provide the most advanced treatments to improve care for patients and will of course look at the wider roll-out of this drug to patients if it gains NICE approval following this encouraging study.’