Pfizer’s Xalkori Extends Lung Cancer Patient Survival

Pfizer yesterday revealed information that demonstrates that Xalkori considerably improved progression-free survival in previously-treated patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Xalkori (crizotinib) gained approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August 2011 for ALK-positive advanced NSCLC, but Pfizer points out that this latest clinical study, Profile 1007, is the first randomised Phase III study for these patients, and compares the oral drug with the recognised intravenous chemotherapies; pemetrexed and docetaxel.

Mace Rothenberg, Pfizer’s senior vice president of clinical development and medical affairs for the oncology department, commented that “these results are important because they demonstrate, for the first time, that Xalkori is superior to standard chemotherapy in prolonging survival without progression in patients with previously-treated ALK-positive advanced NSCLC.”

In addition Rothenberg noted that the trial “provides further support for the precision medicine approach to drug development being taken at Pfizer by demonstrating how knowledge about the underlying genetic abnormalities within a cancer can be used to improve the standard of care.”

Greater understanding of cancer and the human genome has resulted in the progression of cancer drugs that are able to hit very precise targets or benefit smaller groups of patients, such as Xalkori.

Globally, lung cancer is the top cause of cancer death in both men and women.  Across Europe, lung cancer is responsible for 20% of all cancer-related deaths.  NSCLC accounts for roughly 85% of lung cancer cases and is problematic to treat, particularly in the metastatic setting.

Response Genetics announced in December last year that they are planning on offering a diagnostic check that can identify a rare genetic abnormality in lung-cancer patients, to help detect patients that could benefit from using Xalkori.

The adverse events observed on Xalkori and chemotherapy in Profile 1007 “were generally consistent with their respective known adverse event profiles,” Pfizer noted.  Full effectiveness and safety information from the trial will be announced at an upcoming medical congress.


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