Strong trial results for Pfizer lung cancer drug

A Pfizer medicine has been shown to greatly reduce cancer progression and improve survival outcomes for people in the advanced stages of a form of lung cancer, results published Friday showed.

Lorlatinib, which is already approved and available under the brand name Lobrena in the United States, was tested in a clinical trial of hundreds of people with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Roughly half received lorlatinib while the rest received crizotinib, an earlier generation drug.

After five years of follow-up time, more than half of patients treated with lorlatinib did not see their cancer progress.

"We're talking about patients with advanced metastatic disease -- so this is actually a truly unprecedented finding," Pfizer's Despina Thomaidou told AFP.

Sixty percent of patients receiving lorlatinib, an oral one a day tablet, were alive without disease progression after five years compared to 8 percent on crizotinib.

"There is an 81 percent reduction in the risk of progression or death," added Thomaidou.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths globally.

NSCLC accounts for more than 80 percent of lung cancers, with ALK-positive tumors responsible for roughly five percent of NSCLC cases, with roughly 72,000 new cases each year worldwide.

ALK-positive NSCLC mostly affects younger patients and is largely decoupled from lifestyle indicators such as smoking. It is also very aggressive -- 25-40 percent of people with ALK-positive NSCLC develop brain metastases within the first two years.

Lorlatinib penetrates the blood-brain barrier better than prior generation medicines, said Thomaidou, and works to inhibit tumor mutations that drive resistance.

Side effects of lorlatinib included swellings, weight gain and mental health problems.

The results were published at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Source: Agence France Presse

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