AZ's Lynparza misses the mark in gastric cancer trial

Soriot

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has been scouting around for ways to pad its cancer sales. But it looks like a Lynparza label expansion in advanced gastric cancer isn’t going to be one of them anytime in the near future.

Wednesday, the pharma giant announced its ovarian cancer-fighter had missed its primary endpoint in a Phase III study, failing to beat out solo paclitaxel at extending overall survival when combined with the chemo med. In addition to missing the mark in the overall study population, Lynparza also came up short among patients whose tumors tested negative for the Ataxia-Telangectasia mutated protein, AZ said.

It’s a blow for Lynparza, which the company has predicted would bring in $2 billion a year in peak sales. Not only does the therapy belong to a new class of treatments--PARP inhibitors, designed to zero in on cancer cells and leave patients’ normal cells untouched--but it also belongs to a group of products AstraZeneca is counting on to help it stay the course of recently launched generics to blockbuster statin Crestor. While the British drugmaker has others chipping in growth--diabetes meds Farxiga and Onglyza, to name a couple, impressed in Q1--CEO Pascal Soriot called out Lynparza on a conference call with investors as a highlight among the company’s cancer launches.

It’s no secret that AZ is looking at cancer in particular, too, to help it bulk up--and has been ever since it delivered a resounding no to wannabe merger partner Pfizer ($PFE) back in 2014. It’s struck several oncology deals so far--many in the red-hot immunotherapy space--and recently, rumors surfaced that it was eyeing a bid for contested target Medivation ($MDVN), whose prostate cancer phenom Xtandi has also helped it draw interest from the likes of Sanofi ($SNY), Pfizer, Novartis ($NVS) and Amgen ($AMGN).

Of course, AstraZeneca also has other Phase III programs for Lynparza in the works--and it’s hoping those will pan out differently. “We … remain confident in Lynparza’s clinical activity in a range of tumor types, including its approved use in BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer,” CMO Sean Bohen said in a statement.

- read the release

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