AstraZeneca lung cancer drug approved as first-line treatment

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in Macclesfield, central England May 19, 2014. REUTERS/Phil Noble

(Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved AstraZeneca Plc’s drug, Iressa, as a first-line treatment for a common form of lung cancer.

The FDA said on Tuesday the approval was based on results from a trial of 106 patients with previously untreated non-small cell lung cancer. (

The drug was previously approved for use only in patients who did not respond to chemotherapy.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates more than 158,000 will die from the disease this year.

The approval could breath new life into the drug, whose sales fell 5 percent to $144 million in the first quarter.

Drugs like Iressa and Roche Holding AG’s 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.

Reporting by Amrutha Penumudi in Bengaluru; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty