Novartis preps for ASCO data on Tasigna, Afinitor

With the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting set to begin, the handicapping is in full swing. Novartis ($NVS) is touting its lineup of 160 abstracts, which the company hopes will drive home the point that it's no slouch when it comes to cancer drugs.

Two of Novartis' existing drugs--Afinitor and Tasigna--will get closer looks, with late-stage data on Afinitor in breast cancer of particular interest. The drug, now approved to treat malignant and benign kidney tumors as well as pancreatic cancer, was studied in women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, in combination with the hormonal drug Aromasin. The ASCO release is a follow-up look at the data at 18 months, showing it improved progression-free survival and cut the risk of cancer progression by 55%, the company says.

The FDA and other regulatory agencies already are considering Afinitor for breast cancer use; the company expects $1 billion in new revenues from the drug if it wins the new indication, Reuters says.

Tasigna is also up for review with two Phase III studies from a trial in patients with chronic Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia. The ENEST trial compared Tasigna with Novartis' older, breakthrough drug Gleevec, which is heading off patent in 2015; the data update looks at switching some patients to Tasigna from Gleevec and at Tasigna's performance in newly diagnosed patients.

- read the Novartis release
- get more from Reuters