AZ/Merck & Co’s Lynparza sets ‘new standards’ in ovarian cancer

AstraZeneca and Merck & Co’s Lynparza should be the standard therapy for a certain group of ovarian cancer patients according to US cancer experts reviewing long-term trial data. 

The companies were presenting five-year data from Lynparza (olaparib) ahead of this year’s American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference, which for the first time showed the drug produced an overall survival benefit. 

Lynparza is an important drug for AZ, the first PARP inhibitor to be approved in 2014, and therefore still holding an advantage over newer rivals from GlaxoSmithKline and Clovis who are trying to gain a foothold in niches in ovarian, breast and other form of cancers. 

ASCO reviewed five-year follow-up data from patients in the randomised phase 3 SOLO-2 trial, which tested Lynparza in women with platinum-sensitive relapsed ovarian cancer with BRCA 1 or mutations. 

At five years results showed 42.1% of women on the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibtor were alive compared with 33.2% on placebo. 

In the double-blind, multicentre trial, 196 patients with relapsed BRCA-related ovarian cancer responding to platinum-based chemotherapy were randomised to receive olaparib tablets, while 99 received placebo.  

The patients had also previously received at least two lines of chemotherapy and had cancer that was responding to recent platinum-based chemotherapy. 

After median follow-up of 65 months, 28.3% of patients who received Lynparza were alive and had not received subsequent treatment, compared with 12.8% of patients who received a placebo. 

Patients receiving Lynparza in the time between disease response and progression had a 26% reduced risk of death. In addition, 38.4% of patients in the placebo group crossed over to treatment with olaparib. 

ASCO Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President Richard Schilsky said: “This study confirms that the PARP inhibitor olaparib should be the standard maintenance therapy for patients with BRCA-related relapsed ovarian cancer responding to platinum-based chemotherapy – a significant advance for women with a cancer that has a historically poor prognosis.” 

Lead author Andres Poveda, MD, of Initia Oncology, Hospital Quironsalud, in Valencia, Spain said: “With the addition of overall survival data, this study helps usher in a new era of personalised medicine for women with this difficult-to-treat cancer.”

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