Lilly breast cancer drug may challenge Pfizer pill


NEW YORKEli Lilly & Co’s experimental breast cancer drug abemaciclib, when combined with standard therapy, slowed the progression of the tumour in patients with an advanced form of the disease.

Patients in the late-stage study of 493 women saw the chances that the cancer would progress reduced by 46%, according to preliminary results. In the study, 59% of patients treated with the drug had their tumours shrink, compared to 44% for those taking a placebo with the standard therapy.

The delay in tumour progression is similar to those from trials for Pfizer Inc’s Ibrance and Novartis AG’s Kisqali, two medicines already approved to treat what is one of the deadliest forms of breast cancer, according to Matt Goetz, co-lead investigator in the Lilly trial.

While the abemaciclib study isn’t complete yet, it already confirms that the class of drugs known as CDK4/6 inhibitors is the most effective therapy for the type of advanced breast cancer studied, said Goetz, a physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He said abemaciclib provides an option for patients who can’t tolerate the other drugs.

Diarrhea occurred in 81% of patients who received abemaciclib, according to the interim data, which was presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Madrid.

“We feel very comfortable that this drug will be an interesting addition to the set of options that breast cancer patients have already,” said Levi Garraway, VP of global oncology at Indianapolis-based Lilly. — Bloomberg