AstraZeneca and Merck (MSD) announce that Lynparza for pancreatic cancer patients was granted orphan drug designation (ODD) by the FDA.
Pancreatic cancer is a rare, life-threatening disease that accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US. Due to the late onset of symptoms, patients are often diagnosed after the cancer has progressed to locally advanced or metastatic stages of the disease. Five-year survival rates remain low in the US at 8.5%.
“Pancreatic cancer is an area of significant unmet medical need.”
ODD status was granted for the treatment of ovarian cancer in October 2013. Earlier this year an amended ODD status was granted to include both fallopian tube and primary peritoneal cancers following the expanded US approval of Lynparza (olaparib) in August 2017 for the maintenance treatment of adult patients with recurrent epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer, who are in a complete or partial response to platinum-based chemotherapy. The FDA grants ODD status to medicines intended for the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases or disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the US.
Lynparza for pancreatic cancer patients is being assessed in the ongoing Phase III POLO trial, which is testing Lynparza as maintenance monotherapy vs placebo in patients with germline BRCA-mutated metastatic pancreatic cancer whose disease has not progressed following 1st-line platinum-based chemotherapy. Results from the POLO trial are expected in the first half of 2019.
The Phase II trail Study 08 showed clinical improvement in median radiologic progression-free survival (rPFS) with Lynparza (olaparib) in combination with abiraterone compared to abiraterone monotherapy, a standard of care, in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).
Sean Bohen, Executive Vice President, Global Medicines Development and Chief Medical Officer said: “Pancreatic cancer is an area of significant unmet medical need. This is especially true for patients with metastatic disease where the benefits of current treatment options are very limited.”
Roy Baynes, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer, at MSD Research Laboratories, said: “Pancreatic cancer is a relatively less common, but life-threatening, form of cancer. The FDA granting Orphan Drug Designation is a positive step for patients with pancreatic cancer and continues to reinforce the importance of our collaboration in bringing Lynparza to more patients in need.”