AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso surpasses rival drugs for survival for treating first-line lung cancer

Results from the newly updated FLAURA trial show that Tagrisso extends survival in previously untreated patients with EGFR-positive non-small cell lung cancer, building on the 2017 results and helping AZ in heading towards AZ target of increasing its use in a first line setting.

Its results surpassed AZ’s own Iressa and Roche’s Tarceva and according to the head of oncology at AZ, Jose Baselga, it is the only medicine to do so. He stated that it provides an ‘unprecedented survival outcome versus previous standard of care inhibitors’ and that it should be the ‘new standard of therapy for non-small cell lung cancer.’

It was necessary for AZ to perform further trials as the data from the 2017 FLAURA trial did show a trend of increasing the OS but the earlier readouts were too immature to show statistical significance. This new data will be welcomed by AZ officers, as it will help to set apart Tagrisso in the EFGR-inhibitor category, a category which is becoming increasing competitive, with Pfizer’s Vizimpro set to jostle its way in.

This data will no doubt be used by AZ to appeal against NICE ( UK cost-effectiveness body), after it turned down Tagrisso as a first line EGFR-positive Non small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) treatment, in part to the original OS data from the 2017 trial being inconclusive when compared too older, cheaper rivals. NICE also decided at that time that Tagrisso would not be included in the Cancer Drugs Fund, citing it was too expensive and instead recommended Pfizer’s Vizimpro for routine use in the NHS.

Tagrisso is already dominating as a second line use for NSCLC, with AZ doubling its efforts to get more approvals for it as a first line treatment. The successes of Tagrisso are reflected in AZ quarterly earning reports, with Tagrisso being AZ top selling product, will sales doubling to $1.4bn and forecasted to reach $3bn by the end of this year.

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