| MADRID, Sept 28
MADRID, Sept 28 Continuing to give AstraZeneca's
drug Iressa plus chemotherapy to lung cancer patents
whose disease has worsened after previously taking the medicine
on its own does not provide any benefit.
Some doctors had hoped that extending the use of Iressa in
combination with chemotherapy would help to keep cancers at bay,
even when tumour cells had started to develop resistance to the
But a clinical study presented at the European Society for
Medical Oncology annual congress on Sunday found no
statistically significant improvement in the length of time
patients lived without their disease getting worse.
The Phase III study, involving 265 patients, tested Iressa
plus chemotherapy to chemotherapy alone. It was sponsored by
Lead researcher Tony Mok of the Chinese University in Hong
Kong said the result suggested doctors should not prescribe
so-called EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor drugs like Iressa when
patients' disease had progressed after first-line use of the
Data on whether patients had a better overall chance of
survival in either arm of the study was inconclusive, Mok said,
although there was a suggestion of improved survival in those
who did not take Iressa. "This needs to be monitored very
closely in future," he said.
Drugs like Iressa and Roche's rival lung cancer
pill Tarceva have been on the market for several years and
provide a valuable treatment option for some lung cancer
patients with a certain genetic mutation.
That mutation affects around 10 to 15 percent of European
and American patients with non-small cell lung cancer and 30 to
40 percent of those in Asia.
A new generation of targeted lung cancer drugs are now being
developed to target a genetic mutation that helps tumours evade
current treatments like Iressa and initial test results have
One of the new drugs is AstraZeneca's experimental product
AZD9291. AstraZeneca believes its new-generation medicine could
sell as much as $3 billion a year - considerably more than
Iressa's sales of $647 million last year.
(Editing by Susan Thomas)