AstraZeneca hails results of ‘ground-breaking’ cancer wonderdrug: ‘Shattered expectations’

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The company’s shares soared yesterday after “unprecedented” data was revealed for treatment for the life-changing disease. The company was one of the largest risers on the FTSE 100, increasing by more than six percent. It came as investors welcomed “ground-breaking” phase III trial results for Enhertu, presented at a European medical oncology conference over the weekend.

AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, said that 72 percent of women in the trial had shown no progression in their disease after 12 months compared with a third treated with Kadcyla, a drug made by Swiss company Roche.

The trial focused on patients with metastatic breast cancer.

This means their cancer has spread to other parts of the body, and produces a protein, HER2, which speeds up the growth of the disease

Around a fifth of women with breast cancer have this mutation.

“Progression-free survival”, where the disease has not become more advanced, was more than two years for Enhertu, and seven months for Kadcyla.

Dave Fredrickson, head of oncology at AstraZeneca, said the results “shattered expectations” and have not put the possibility of finding a “cure” out of the question for some women with an advanced form of the disease.

He added: “We’ve never seen a magnitude of benefit like this in metastatic breast cancer before.”

Susan Galbraith, executive vice president of Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, also called the results “ground-breaking.”

She said at the European medical oncology conference: “These unprecedented data represent a potential paradigm shift in the treatment of HER-2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and illustrate the potential for Enhertu to transform more patient lives in earlier treatment settings.”

Analysts at the broker Jefferies said Enhertu showed “unprecedented efficacy” and “should become the new standard of care in second-line treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer.”

The company forecast $800million (£586million) worldwide peak sales for Enhertu for this type of breast cancer and $2.7billion (£1.98billion) across all indications.

Analysts at investment bank JP Morgan said that the results exceeded its expectations and its $700million (£513million( peak sales forecast “could prove conservative”, as Enhertu now have the possibility of achieving $1.7billion (£1.25billion) in peak sales.

AstraZeneca gained access to Enhertu through a $6.9billion (£5.96billion) global development and commercialisation partnership with Daiichi Sankyo, the Tokyo-listed drugs company, in 2019.

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Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world, with more than two million patients diagnosed last year and 685,000 deaths worldwide.

Around 54,000 people in the UK are diagnosed each year, with around 12,000 deaths.

Enhertu has now been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

AstraZeneca struck a deal with the NHS for a discount on the official price for a course of Enhertu, which should be around £118,000.

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