Drug firm AstraZeneca (AZN) said today that its lung cancer drug Tagrisso demonstrated unprecedented disease-free survival in post-surgery patients.

The news saw shares in the company rally more than 2% to £89.07, one of the biggest gains among FTSE 100 firms on Friday.

This development shouldn’t be surprising after an independent data monitoring committee recommended in April that the drug trial should be unblinded two years ahead of schedule.

A double-blind study involves giving half the patients a placebo and comparing results with the half taking the test drug, ensuring the results have statistical validity. Neither the patients nor the experimenters know who is receiving the drug.

Relaxing the ‘blind’ part of the trial requirement already suggested the efficacy of the drug was strong.

INCREASING SUFFERS’ CHANCES

Today more detailed results were released which showed after two-years 89% of patients treated with Tagrisso remained alive and disease free compared with 53% for the placebo.

Executive Vice President of Oncology R&D, Jose Baselga said, ‘the momentous results of the Phase III ADAURA trial for Tagrisso demonstrate for the first time in a global trial that an EGFR inhibitor can change the course of early-stage EGFR-mutated lung cancer and provide hope for a cure.’

According to analysts eventual approval could add billions in additional revenues for the company. Tagrisso is already Astra’s best selling drug and last year  generated $3.2bn in sales.

EXPANDING ADDRESSABLE MARKET

Historically the drug has been used in late stage patients, while the current trial will provide treatment for earlier, post-surgery treatments.

Broker Shore Capital reckons the new opportunity increases the addressable market by around 30,000 patients, potentially boosting revenues by $5bn a year.

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Issue Date: 29 May 2020