AstraZeneca and MSD Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., US announced that Lynparza (olaparib) has been approved in the European Union (EU) for patients with germline BRCA-mutated (gBRCAm) metastatic pancreatic cancer.
Pancreatic cancer is a rare, life-threatening disease with the lowest survival rate among the most common cancers.1 Approximately 5-7% of patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer have a germline BRCA mutation.2
The approval by the European Commission was based on results from the Phase III POLO trial, which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. It follows the recommendation for approval by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency.
Hedy L. Kindler, Co-Principal Investigator of the POLO trial and Professor of Medicine, University of Chicago Medicine, said: “Today’s approval opens the door to a new era of biomarker-led care for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer in the EU, which has the highest incidence of any region globally. Lynparza now provides clinicians with a targeted, well-tolerated treatment option for patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer.”
Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit, said: “Patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer historically have faced poor outcomes due to the aggressive nature of the disease and few treatment advances have been made over the last few decades. In the POLO trial, Lynparza nearly doubled median progression-free survival versus placebo after 1st-line chemotherapy for patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer. This approval underscores the importance of testing all patients for germline BRCA mutations at the time of diagnosis, as it will help inform personalised treatment options for patients in the EU.”
Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer, MSD Research Laboratories, said: “MSD and AstraZeneca are committed to advancing research into the treatment of patients with challenging types of cancer, including those with metastatic pancreatic cancer. Lynparza is now the only approved PARP inhibitor in biomarker-selected patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. We look forward to making this targeted treatment option available for patients across the EU as quickly as possible.”
The POLO trial demonstrated that Lynparza nearly doubled the time patients with gBRCAm metastatic pancreatic cancer lived without disease progression or death to a median of 7.4 months versus 3.8 months on placebo. The safety and tolerability profile of Lynparza in the trial was consistent with previous trials.
Lynparza is indicated as monotherapy for the maintenance treatment of adult patients with germline BRCA1/2 mutations who have metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas and have not progressed after a minimum of 16 weeks of platinum treatment within a 1st-line chemotherapy regimen.
Lynparza is approved in the US and several other countries as a 1st-line maintenance treatment for patients with gBRCAm metastatic pancreatic cancer based on the Phase III POLO trial, with ongoing regulatory reviews in other regions.
Pancreatic cancer is a deadly cancer with a high unmet medical need. Globally, pancreatic cancer is the 11th-most commonly occurring cancer and the seventh leading cause of cancer death.3,4 There were approximately 460,000 new cases worldwide in 2018.1 As there are often no symptoms, or symptoms may be non-specific in the early stages, it is most commonly diagnosed at an incurable stage.5,6
Around 80% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed when the disease has metastasised, at which point average survival is less than a year.7 Despite advances, few improvements have been made in diagnosis and treatment in the past few decades.8 Current treatment is surgery (for which approximately only 10-20% of patients are eligible), chemotherapy and radiotherapy, highlighting a critical unmet medical need for more effective treatment options.9
POLO is a randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled, multi-centre Phase III trial of Lynparza tablets (300mg twice daily) as maintenance monotherapy versus placebo. The trial randomised 154 patients with gBRCAm metastatic pancreatic cancer whose disease had not progressed on 1st-line platinum-based chemotherapy. Patients were randomised (3:2) to receive Lynparza or placebo until disease progression. The primary endpoint was progression-free survival and key secondary endpoints included overall survival, time to second disease progression, overall response rate and health-related quality of life.
The AstraZeneca and MSD strategic oncology collaboration
In July 2017, AstraZeneca and Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, NJ, US, known as MSD outside the US and Canada, announced a global strategic oncology collaboration to co-develop and co-commercialise Lynparza, the world’s first PARP inhibitor, and Koselugo (selumetinib), a MEK inhibitor, for multiple cancer types. Working together, the companies will develop Lynparza and Koselugo in combination with other potential new medicines and as monotherapies. Independently, the companies will develop Lynparza and Koselugo in combination with their respective PD-L1 and PD-1 medicines.
AstraZeneca in oncology
AstraZeneca has a deep-rooted heritage in oncology and offers a quickly growing portfolio of new medicines that has the potential to transform patients’ lives and the Company’s future. With six new medicines launched between 2014 and 2020, and a broad pipeline of small molecules and biologics in development, the Company is committed to advance oncology as a key growth driver for AstraZeneca focused on lung, ovarian, breast and blood cancers. In addition to AstraZeneca’s main capabilities, the Company is actively pursuing innovative partnerships and investment that accelerate the delivery of our strategy, as illustrated by the investment in Acerta Pharma in haematology.
By harnessing the power of four scientific platforms – Immuno-Oncology, Tumour Drivers and Resistance, DNA Damage Response and Antibody Drug Conjugates – and by championing the development of personalised combinations, AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer treatment and, one day, eliminate cancer as a cause of death.
AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialisation of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas – Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide.