Roche with approval for new lung cancer medication

Oslo Cancer Cluster member Roche has received approval for a medication against a specific form for lung cancer by the Norwegian Medicines Agency.  


Clinical data from a phase III study of the lung cancer medicine, named Alecensa, also shows significant approved survival for lung cancer patients.

This is important news for younger lung cancer patients because they have few treatments options today, often develop resistance to current standard of care within one year, and experience metastasis to the brain.

The specific form of lung cancer this drug, called Alecensa is approved for, is called anaplastic lymfomkinase (ALK) -positive advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In Norway lung cancer affects about 3 035 people per year. Of these almost five percent are ALK-positive. This cancer occurs mainly in young people of 50 years and under, with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma. They normally smoke little or are non-smokers.

-We are glad that we finally can offer the lung cancer medicine Alecensa as a new treatment for Norwegian patients who no longer respond to the current standard treatment. We continue our efforts to improve research in personalised medicine to meet current unmet medical needs, says Elizabeth Jeffords, CEO of Roche Norway.


Clinical trials in Norway
Norwegian lung cancer patients have contributed to this study. Lead investigator in Norway is oncologist Åslaug Helland at Oslo University Hospital, Radium Hospital. She is one of the top ranked experts on this kind of lung cancer disease in Norway.

– Alecensa seems to be a very effective medication and is targeted for patients with ALK-positive lung cancer. About 90 people are diagnosed with this disease each year in Norway. This study has shown that the patients have good effect of the drug, with a long term effect and few side effects, says Helland.

Helland is pleased that a lot of new medications for lung cancer patients have been developed recently. She says this is due to the discovery of the driver-mutations for the disease.

– Lung cancer is the cancer that take the most lives in Norway, and we are glad for study results showing that patients can live longer without the disease worsening. Alecensa has now demonstrated efficacy both as first line therapy and second line therapy after treatment with crizotinib, says Jeffords.


About Alecensa
Alecensa (alektinib) is an oral drug, developed by Chugai Kamakura Research Laboratories of patients with non-small cell lung cancer whose tumors are assessed as ALK-positive. ALK-conditional positive, non-small cell lung cancer is often found in younger patients who are non-smokers, or who have previously smoked little. It is almost exclusively found in patients with a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer, called adenocarcinoma.

Alecensa has conditional marketing authorisation for the treatment of advanced (metastatic), ALK-positive, non-small cell lung cancer, where the condition is exacerbated by treatment with crizotinib.