China approves AstraZeneca's lung cancer drug

FILE PHOTO: An AstraZeneca sign is seen at the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China November 6, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

(Reuters) – China has approved AstraZeneca drug, Imfinzi, to treat an aggressive type of lung cancer in adults, the group said on Monday, in a boost to its efforts to tackle the disease.

The drug’s use with chemotherapy for adult patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) was approved by China’s National Medical Products Administration, the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker said.

SCLC is an aggressive form of lung cancer that typically recurs and advances despite a response to chemotherapy. Only about 3% of those with extensive-stage disease live beyond five years after diagnosis.

China’s approval came after positive results from a late-stage trial, which showed that the drug, when used with chemotherapy, helped improve patients’ overall survival compared to chemotherapy alone. Results from a local trial also aligned with global results, AstraZeneca said.

The drugmaker is also seeking to catch up with Swiss rival Roche , whose Tecentriq is approved in China and many other countries for extensive-stage SCLC.

AstraZeneca’s lung cancer portfolio includes a range of medicines including Imfinzi, which was approved in the United States and the European Union last year for extensive-stage SCLC.

Imfinzi, which enables the immune system to detect and attack certain cancer cells, is already approved in many countries as a treatment for the more common non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer accounts for roughly a fifth of all deaths from cancer and is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women.

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