AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso significantly reduces the risk of death in some patients with post-operative lung cancer

By Natalie Grover

LONDON (Reuters) – AstraZeneca’s lung cancer treatment Tagrisso has more than halved the risk of death in patients with some form of lung cancer who were diagnosed early enough for their tumor or surgically removed, according to trial data.

Tagrisso is already the crown jewel in the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker’s portfolio, with $5.4 billion last year.

The drug has regulatory approvals in multiple geographies for certain non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients who have an EGFR gene mutation.

The latest data, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, establishes Tagrisso as the cornerstone treatment for EGFR-mutated lung cancer, said Susan Galbraith, executive vice president of R&D. in oncology at AstraZeneca in a press release.

In a 682-patient trial called ADAURA, Tagrisso was evaluated against placebo in patients with early-stage EGFR-mutated NSCLC who had undergone surgery to remove their primary tumour.

The majority of these patients eventually see their cancer come back despite surgery and additional chemotherapy.

In the trial, patients were given Tagrisso or a placebo to assess whether AstraZeneca therapy could keep their cancer at bay.

The data showed that Tagrisso reduced the risk of death by 51% compared to placebo.

“This is quite a dramatic and remarkable improvement,” Dave Fredrickson, executive vice president of oncology at AstraZeneca, said in an interview with Reuters.

An estimated 88% of patients treated with Tagrisso were alive at five years, compared with 78% on placebo, the trial data also showed.

Outside of chemotherapy, no drug besides Tagrisso has been shown to help patients with EGFR-mutated lung cancer live longer, Fredrickson pointed out, adding that there’s likely a third of eligible patients who have not yet been prescribed Tagrisso.

“We hope to be able to use this data to be able to close this gap,” he said.

AstraZeneca also expects to provide details on the impact of combining Tagrisso with chemotherapy in patients with advanced EGFR-mutated lung cancer later this year.

(Reporting by Natalie Grover in London; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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