China clears AstraZeneca’s drug for lung cancer

Only 3 per cent of extensive-stage SCLC patients survive beyond five years after diagnosis.

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On July 19, Reuters reported that China’s National Medical Products Administration has approved the usage of AstraZeneca’s drug Imfinzi for an aggressive form of lung cancer i.e. extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC) in adults with an aim of strengthening its efforts to fight the illness.

The country’s approval came after positive results of CASPIAN Phase 3, which demonstrated that the drug when combined with the use of chemotherapy helped improve the overall survival of the patients against chemotherapy alone. Imfinzi allows the immune system to detect and attack certain cells.

The British-Swedish pharmaceutical company has said that the results from a local trial were consistent with global results as well. The drug has received approval from many countries as a treatment for the more common and less aggressive non-small cell lung cancer.

The lung cancer portfolio of AstraZeneca consists of a range of medicines including Imfinzi, which was approved by the United States and European Union for extensive-stage SCLC in 2020.

In addition, it is striving to catch up with Roche, a Swiss healthcare company. China had given the nod to Roche’s Tecentriq for the initial treatment of the same type of illness.

SCLC, being the most aggressive form of lung cancer, typically recurs and advances despite a response to chemotherapy. The small cancer cells grow quickly, which ends up creating large tumours.