Pfizer's Lung Cancer Drug Shows Promising Results In Extending Survival Rates, Stopping Cancer Spread

Pfizer says its drug for an advanced form of lung cancer showed promising long-term results in a late-stage trial, which could help establish it as the new standard treatment for the condition. Lorbrena is already approved in the US for treating adults with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who have a mutation in a gene called ALK. Read on to know more.
Lung cancer Pfizer medicine

Lorbrena is the only inhibitor drug to have reported five-year progression-free survival

Lung cancer is among the leading cause of cancer-related deaths across the world, accounting for the highest mortality rates among both men and women. According to experts, despite the available treatment options of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy drugs, survival rates among lung cancer patients with advanced stages have been always bleak. However, Pfizer's new cancer drug is showing promising results.
Researchers say new clinical trial results show that Lorbrena – also known as Lorlatinib stops lung cancer from advancing in patients with ALK- positive non-small cell lung cancer – which usually appears in adenocarcinoma, the lungs' mucous glands. Doctors say it affects around 4 per cent of lung cancers and tends to occur in younger patients who do not smoke.

What does the study say?

According to the trial conducted by Pfizer, among 296 patients with ALK-positive lung cancer, Lorbrena demonstrated a 94 per cent reduction in the risk of developing intracranial progression – when the tumours begin to form. This resulted in the longest progression-free survival results ever recorded in patients with this condition. “After a five-year follow-up, we’ve not hit a median progression-free survival, which means it’s still 60 per cent of the patients who are on [Lorbrena] continue to be on it,” said study coauthor Todd Bauer, medical oncologist with Tennessee Oncology in Nashville.
According to the study, Lorbrena is the only inhibitor drug to have reported five-year progression-free survival. As cancer drugs, it works by stopping proteins that cause tumor cells to grow abnormally. Previously a few othe inhibitors were also effective for the first year, but drug resistance and cancer mutations stopped the progress.

Side effects of Pfizer Lung Cancer Drug

Researchers said the two most common side effects of Lorbrena include high levels of cholesterol and hypertriglyceridemia, which lead to high levels of triglycerides, and can be managed using medication. A few common side effects of include:
  • Slight swelling in the arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • A few incidences of numbness
  • Weight gain
  • Memory issues like forgetfulness or confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Slight breathlessness
  • Joint pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • Mood swings
  • Cough
“The standard dose of Lorbrena is a 100-milligram tablet once a day. And if patients start to have those [side effects], you can introduce them to 75 milligrams once a day, or all the way down to 50 milligrams once a day,” Bauer said. The CROWN trial data says dosage of the medication does not compromise its efficacy and those who had a dose reduction within the first 16 weeks of starting saw no difference in median progression-free survival or intracranial response rates. “Even at that slightly lower dose, you still maintain the full efficacy of the drug,” Bauer said.

Lorbrena is good against brain cancer as well

According to experts, Lorbrena is good against brain cancer as well. In a five-year study, 92 per cent of patients on Lorbrena did not develop brain cancer, compared to 21 per cent of patients on Xalkori. For those with existing brain metastases, 81 per cent of those using Lorbrena had not developed more brain cancer.
Lorbrena was also effective in patients without brain metastases. Only 4 of 114 patients developed brain lesions in the first 16 months of treatment.
End of Article
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