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AstraZeneca’s olaparib + bevacizumab cleared as certain cancer treatment in EU

AstraZeneca and MSD’s Lynparza (olaparib) has been approved in the European Union (EU) for the 1st-line maintenance treatment with bevacizumab of patients with homologous recombination deficient (HRD)-positive advanced ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in the EU and the five-year survival rate is approximately 45%, due partly because women are often diagnosed with advanced disease (Stage III or IV).1-3

The approval by the European Commission was based on a biomarker subgroup analysis of the PAOLA-1 Phase III trial which showed Lynparza, in combination with bevacizumab maintenance treatment, demonstrated a substantial progression-free survival (PFS) improvement versus bevacizumab alone for patients with HRD-positive advanced ovarian cancer. It follows the recommendation for approval by the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use of the European Medicines Agency in September 2020.

Isabelle Ray-Coquard, principal investigator of the PAOLA-1 Phase III trial and medical oncologist, Centre Léon Bérard and President of the GINECO group, Paris, France, said that for women with advanced ovarian cancer, the goal of 1st-line treatment is to delay disease progression for as long as possible with the intent of achieving long-term remission. She said that, unfortunately, once a patient’s cancer recurs, it historically has been incurable. “Lynparza together with bevacizumab has demonstrated an impressive median progression-free survival benefit of more than three years and is poised to become the standard of care for eligible patients with HRD-positive tumours in the EU,” she said.

Dave Fredrickson, Executive Vice President, Oncology Business Unit, noted that half of all newly diagnosed patients with advanced ovarian cancer have HRD-positive tumours. Fredrickson said that women treated with Lynparza in combination with bevacizumab in the PAOLA-1 Phase III trial lived progression free for a median of more than three years, showing that HRD testing should be an essential component of clinical diagnosis. “HRD status can help physicians select a personalised 1st-line treatment regimen for patients to substantially delay relapse in this devastating disease,” he said.

Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer, MSD Research Laboratories, said: “Biomarker testing has rapidly enhanced our understanding of how PARP inhibition can help target this disease. The EU approval reinforces that HRD-positive tumours represent a distinct subset of advanced ovarian cancer and HRD testing is critical for women in this setting.”

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