AstraZeneca immunotherapy for stage 3 lung cancer patients now available in England


AstraZeneca’s immunotherapy treatment designed to cure stage 3 lung cancer is now available to patients in England thanks to the Cancer Drugs Fund.
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Laboratory work at AstraZeneca.  Photo: Marco Betti (8200890)
Laboratory work at AstraZeneca. Photo: Marco Betti (8200890)

IMFINZI – the brand name for durvalumab – has been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which determines the medicines used by the NHS.

Professor Corinne Faivre-Finn, professor of thoracic radiation oncology at the University of Manchester and honorary advisor clinical oncologist at The Christie NHS Foundation, said: “The availability of durvalumab is a turning point for lung cancer in England as it will change the way we treat it. patients with stage 3 disease Stage 3 NSCLC may be curable but unfortunately with current treatments most patients will progress to advanced disease Now for the first time in 20 years we have access to a new treatment option that has been shown to improves survival outcomes.”

Each year, nearly 6,250 people in England are diagnosed with stage three NSCLC, where the cancer has spread to the lungs and may have reached the lymph nodes but not other parts of the body.

There is a chance to cure the disease at this stage, before progressing to stage four (metastatic) cancer, when the goal is to prolong life and provide palliative care.

AstraZeneca estimates nearly 300 patients are eligible for durvalumab monotherapy

AstraZeneca's new global headquarters and R&D center.  (8200903)
AstraZeneca’s new global headquarters and R&D center. (8200903)

Durvalumb has been recommended for use within the Cancer Drugs Fund as an option for treating the disease in adults with tumors that express a protein called PD-L1 on at least one percent of tumor cells and whose disease has not progressed after concomitant platinum-based chemoradiation therapy.

Analysis has shown that the risk of death in such patients is reduced by 47 percent by the drug, and progression to stage four was typically delayed by a year.

Mohit Manrao, Director of the Oncology Business Unit at AstraZeneca UK, said: “For the first time, this group of stage 3 NSCLC patients has access to an immunotherapy that has been shown to improve survival.

“We have made durvalumab available in the UK through an early access program since October 2017 and are now delighted that it will be available within NHS England.

“As a company with a long and deep history of driving lung cancer research and treatment change in the UK, we have partnered with NICE to ensure a positive outcome as soon as possible.”

The Cancer Drugs Fund is a government funding source for oncology medicines managed by NHS England in partnership with NICE.

Meanwhile, on Monday, it was announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved breakthrough therapy for selumetinib for children three years and older with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) symptomatic and/or progressive, inoperable plexiform neurofibromas (PN), a rare, incurable genetic disorder.

The designation means that regulatory approval for the drug, developed by AstraZeneca and MSD, could be accelerated.

It is the ninth such designation that AstraZeneca has received since 2014.

dr.  Jose Baselga, Executive Vice-President Research & Development oncology at AstraZeneca.  Photo: AstraZeneca (8200894)
dr. Jose Baselga, Executive Vice-President Research & Development oncology at AstraZeneca. Photo: AstraZeneca (8200894)

Jose Baselga, executive vice president, research and development, oncology, said: “Selumetinib shows promise in the treatment of NF1-related plexiform neurofibromas, a rare and debilitating disease for which there are currently no approved drugs. The Breakthrough Therapy Designation recognizes the significant unmet need of these patients and the potential benefit of selumetinib in this setting.”

AstraZeneca has also announced a partnership with Daiichi Sankyo in Japan for the development and commercialization of trastuzumab deruxtecan.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said: “We believe that trastuzumab deruxtecan could become a transformative new drug for the treatment of HER2-positive breast and gastric cancers. In addition, it has the potential to redefine breast cancer treatment as the first therapy for tumors with low HER2 expression. It also has the potential to treat other HER2-mutated or HER2-overexpressing cancers, including lung and colorectal cancers. We are proud to partner with Daiichi Sankyo, a long-time collaborator of AstraZeneca in other disease areas.”

AstraZeneca Cambridge Biomedical Campus, culminating in Pascal Soriot.  Photo: Keith Heppell.  (8200925)
AstraZeneca Cambridge Biomedical Campus, culminating in Pascal Soriot. Photo: Keith Heppell. (8200925)

And last Wednesday, AstraZeneca announced that Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare had approved Forxiga (dapagliflozin) as an oral adjunctive treatment to insulin for adults with type 1 diabetes.

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