Story at a glance

  • Lynparza has been cleared as a treatment for pancreatic cancer following the recommendation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee.
  • Results from a recent study showed Lynparza nearly doubled the time patients with pancreatic cancer lived without disease progression or death.
  • Pancreatic cancer is the 12th most commonly occurring cancer and seventh leading cause of cancer death globally.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an ovarian cancer drug to help treat advanced pancreatic cancer, a notoriously dangerous form of the disease that’s in need of more effective treatment options.  

Earlier this month, a panel of experts at the FDA recommended Lynparza after a study found pancreatic cancer patients taking the drug went nearly twice as long without their cancer getting worse than patients who were taking a placebo. 

The FDA went on to approve Lynparza’s use earlier this week as a maintenance treatment for patients with a specific gene mutation whose cancer spread beyond the pancreas and whose disease did not progress after at least 16 weeks of chemotherapy. Patients will be chosen for therapy based on an FDA-approved diagnostic for the drug. 

The medication, which was developed by pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Merck & Co, is currently approved in several dozen countries for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer and has been used in more than 25,000 patients worldwide. The drug’s makers are looking into the possibility of using it to treat other types of cancers as well.

“Patients with advanced pancreatic cancer historically have faced poor outcomes due to the aggressive nature of the disease and limited treatment advances over the last few decades,” Dave Fredrickson, AstraZeneca’s Oncology Business unit’s executive vice president said. “Lynparza is now the only approved targeted medicine in biomarker-selected patients with advanced pancreatic cancer.” 

Few advances have been made in treating pancreatic cancer over the years. Current treatment includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy, as well as surgery, for which approximately only 10 to 20 percent of patients are eligible. 

Published on Jan 03, 2020