AstraZeneca’s Imfinzi/tremelimumab combo fizzles again on lung cancer

AstraZeneca has found another trap door for its combination of the PD-L1 checkpoint Imfinzi and its CTLA-4 combination drug tremelimumab.

Sean Bohen

The research team on ARCTIC says the combo has failed on both progression-free survival as well as overall survival, unable to beat chemo standard of care as a third-line therapy for non-small cell lung cancer.

The pharma giant says it did detect a clinically meaningful effect for Imfinzi alone in this group, but didn’t power the study to demonstrate statistical significance.

AstraZeneca scored a big gain with an FDA OK to market Imfinzi for stage III NSCLC recently. But their combo failed the first PFS hurdle for frontline NSCLC, where Merck has been consolidating their lead role. And analysts are now likely to be even less impressed by AstraZeneca’s in-house combination as they wait for the OS data from MYSTIC in H2.

Merck and Bristol-Myers have been the frontrunners on the PD-1/L1 front, racking up blockbuster sales as Roche, Pfizer/Merck KGaA and AstraZeneca piled in. It’s still very much a scramble for key market niches, but the future for Imfinzi/tremelimumab is heavily clouded right now.

“While we are disappointed that the combination of Imfinzi plus tremelimumab did not result in a statistically-significant survival benefit in this heavily pre-treated patient population, we are encouraged by the activity of Imfinzi monotherapy observed in this trial and look forward to presenting the full data from the ARCTIC trial at an upcoming medical meeting,” noted AstraZeneca’s Sean Bohen in a statement.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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