AZ looks to extend PARP lead with solid Lynparza breast cancer data

AstraZeneca may have some stiff competition in the PARP inhibitor field when it comes to ovarian cancer. But Friday, the drugmaker showed its contender, Lynparza, could succeed in treating breast cancer, too.

The pharma giant rolled out phase 3 results showing that Lynparza could top standard-of-care chemo at increasing progression-free survival in patients with HER2-negative breast cancer and BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations. And as AZ chief medical officer Sean Bohen pointed out, they’re the first positive phase 3 data for any PARP med outside the ovarian cancer arena.

“This is highly encouraging for the development of our broad portfolio which aims to treat multiple cancers by targeting DNA damage response pathways,” he said in a statement.

AZ’s investors cheered the news, sending the company’s stock shares upward. The company, in search of a turnaround, has pegged much of its future growth on the success of its oncology portfolio, but lately, setbacks in the immuno-oncology space have left some industry watchers unsure what to think.

Plus, Lynparza has already failed once at expanding beyond its current domain. Last May, the British pharma announced that the cancer-fighter had missed its primary endpoint in a phase 3 gastric cancer study, failing to beat out solo paclitaxel at extending overall survival when combined with the chemo med.

A breast cancer nod, though, could certainly help AZ come closer to the $2 billion a year in peak sales the company has predicted. Plus, it’ll give the med a leg up against its PARP rivals, which include Clovis’ December approval Rubraca and forthcoming Tesaro prospect niraparib. At last year’s ESMO conference, that candidate showed it could improve outcomes for all women with recurrent ovarian cancer, posting progression-free survival benefits larger than had ever been seen in recurrent forms of the disease.