ASCO 2020: AstraZeneca Presents a Game-Changer in Lung Cancer

While the AstraZeneca at ASCO 2020 presentation was virtual this year, the phase III results from AstraZeneca’s drug Tagrisso, in lung cancer patients, were as real as they could get. 89% of patients treated with Tagrisso were alive and cancer-free after two years, compared to 53% of patients treated with the placebo.

Oncology Dominance

AstraZeneca started with showcasing a rich portfolio of novel candidates for the treatment of various cancers.

Oncology portfolio for AstraZeneca at ASCO 2020
Source: AstraZeneca at ASCO 2020 Presentation

Tagrisso: A Game Changer in Lung Cancer [AstraZeneca at ASCO 2020]

The results highlighted by AstraZeneca were impressive for several reasons. Some of the key takeaways are highlighted below:

  1. Adjuvant osimertinib is the first targeted agent in a global trial to show a statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvement in DFS patients with stage IB / II / IIIA EFGRm NSCLC.
  2. Overall, there was a 79% reduction in the risk of disease recurrence or death with osimertinib.
  3. Osimertinib vs placebo DFS rates at 2 years were 89% vs 53%, respectively.
  4. A consistent improvement in DFS was seen regardless of whether patients received prior adjuvant chemotherapy.
  5. The safety profile was consistent with the established safety profile of osimertinib.

In fact, the treatment was so effective that the study was un-blinded two years early, on the recommendation of an impartial monitoring board. The figure below highlights the results presented by AstraZeneca.

Snapshot of trial results from AstraZeneca slides in Oncology ADAURA
Source: AstraZeneca

Will this lead to new market opportunities in lung cancer AstraZeneca at ASCO 2020?

Around 60,000 additional patients may be eligible for treatment if the drug is approved in early-stage, post-surgical lung cancer. Patients would take the drug for two to three years.

According to Bloomberg, the study results’ strength suggests that most doctors will adopt the therapy now as the standard of care for this new set of patients, rather than waiting for additional data on overall survival.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women, accounting for about one-fifth of all cancer deaths.1 Lung cancer is broadly split into NSCLC and small cell lung cancer, with 80-85% classified as NSCLC.2 A significant portion of patients with resectable NSCLC eventually develop recurrence despite surgery (complete resection).3,4 Approximately 10-15% of NSCLC patients in the US and Europe, and 30-40% of patients in Asia have EGFRm NSCLC.5-7 These patients are particularly sensitive to treatment with EGFR-tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) which block the cell-signalling pathways that drive the growth of tumour cells.8 Approximately 25-30% of patients with NSCLC present with resectable disease at diagnosis.9-11

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