ESMO: AZ, Merck's Lynparza chases Avastin combo nods with big ovarian cancer winner

BARCELONA – Right now, Roche's Avastin is the treatment to prevent ovarian cancer from progressing in patients without BRCA mutation who have received a first round of chemotherapy. But with their latest combination data, AstraZeneca and Merck hope to get Lynparza into that market.

Saturday at the European Society for Medical Oncology Annual Meeting, the partners trumpeted data showing that adding Lynparza to Avastin cut the risk of disease progression. or death by 41% among patients, regardless of whether they had a BRCA mutation. Lynparza patients went median 22.1 months without seeing their disease worsen, versus 1[ads1]6.6 months for the group receiving Avastin plus placebo.

What "every woman wants to know is, how long will I benefit from this treatment?" to say the median, it's been almost two years, it's a milestone we haven't been able to achieve before, ”said Dave Fredrickson, executive vice president and global head of AstraZeneca's oncology business unit.

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RELATED: AZ, Merck's latest combo gain in Lynparza could expand its ovarian cancer reach

As AZ executives said alongside their top-line data announcement in August, the company is competing to get the data ahead of global regulators in hopes about getting an approval. If it can, it will be the second for Lynparza in the first line ovarian cancer maintenance, where it is also approved solo for women with BRCA mutations. It was OK from US regulators in December, and analysts at the time signaled the clear signal a new blockbuster indication.

The new indication actually helped Lynparza's sales to $ 520 million in the first half of 2019, a 93% increase over the same period last year.

But Lynparza is not the only drug gun for a first-line nod that goes beyond the BRCA group. On Saturday at ESMO, GlaxoSmithKline uncovered positive results for its Zejula in the same setting, showing the drug cut patients' risk of worsening or death from disease by 38% – just unlike Lynparza, who was paired with Avastin, Zejula produced the benefit on its own.

RELATED: ESMO: Glaxos Zejula fights ovarian cancer after first-line chemistry, BRCA positive or not

With both options supposedly headed for government approval, it will be up to doctors to look across of trials and make your choice. But as Fredrickson pointed out, the addition of Avastin did not stop investigators from considering the Lynparza duo "to be well tolerated."

"I think one of the things we have learned in oncology is that we usually get the best results by finding medicines that we can combine together – medicines that have additive effects with non-overlapping toxicity, ”he said, adding that having side effects that do not overlap is“ what is most key. "

" There is certainly a different side effect profile than having Lynparza by itself, but we think the benefit-risk of this is clear "for the combo.

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