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The End of Lung Cancer? New Novartis Drug Effective in Prolonging Patients' Lives

Cancer remains to be one of the leading causes of death in the world, with lung cancer being amongst the top five most common types. Pharma giant Novart...

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|Sep 28|magazine7 min read

Cancer remains to be one of the leading causes of death in the world, with lung cancer being amongst the top five most common types. Pharma giant Novartis is attempting to extend the lives of those living with lung cancer and has reached success with its inaugural inhibitor Zykadia (ceritinib).

In a recent study of 246 patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive (ALK+) non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), those taking the inhibitor drug lived an average of more than 18 months without their cancer progressing.

“These findings are very exciting because until now, most ALK+ NSCLC patients experience disease progression within less than a year of treatment with an ALK inhibitor,” said lead investigator Enriqueta Felip, MD, PhD, Vall d’Hebron University. “This is the longest median progression-free survival data we’ve seen in this broad patient population and it is even more striking when you consider that most of them have received up to three rounds of chemotherapy before taking ceritinib as their first ALK inhibitor.”

Amongst the patients involved in the study, ceritinib achieved an overall response rate of 61.8 percent and a median progression-free survival of 9 months. In 124 patients who entered the trial with brain metastases, those treated with ceritinib achieved an overall response rate of 55.6 percent. Brain metastases were actually found to shrink in roughly one-third of the 29 patients who entered the study with measurable brain lesions.

“These findings in patients being treated with an ALK inhibitor for the first time reinforce the impressive ceritinib data that were already seen in patients who had stopped responding to an ALK inhibitor,” said Alessandro Riva, MD, Global Head, Novartis Oncology Development and Medical Affairs. “We are committed to bringing this treatment to ALK+ NSCLC patients around the world who are in need of effective options.”

The study is part of the ongoing Novartis clinical trial program in this patient population with several major studies evaluating treatment with ceritinib being conducted in more than 300 study centers across more than 30 countries.

Zykadia (ceritinib) is an FDA-approved prescription medicine that is indicated in the United States for the treatment of patients with ALK+ metastatic NSCLC who have progressed on or are intolerant to crizotinib. Currently available through a number of specialty pharmacies in the United States, Zykadia is an investigational agent and is undergoing regulatory reviews in the European Union and several countries within North America, South America, Central America and Asia.