New Drug Combo Might Soon Be an Option for People with Advanced Melanoma with BRAF V600 Mutation

The gist: A combination of the drugs cobimetinib and vemurafenib (aka Zelboraf) might soon become a new treatment option for U.S. patients with advanced melanoma whose tumors have a V600 mutation in the BRAF gene. The drug company Genentech submitted a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking for FDA approval of the combo. In a clinical trial, Genentech researchers found that patients who take cobimetinib along with vemurafenib do better than patients who take vemurafenib alone. Both drugs are targeted therapies.

“Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced the company has submitted a New Drug Application (NDA) for cobimetinib to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment, in combination with Zelboraf® (vemurafenib), for people with BRAF V600 mutation-positive advanced melanoma. The submission is based on results of the coBRIM Phase III study, which showed people who received the MEK inhibitor cobimetinib plus Zelboraf lived significantly longer without their disease worsening or death (progression-free survival; PFS) compared to Zelboraf alone.

” ‘In the past several years we have made significant progress in treating advanced melanoma, but it remains a serious and difficult to treat cancer that affects more people each year,’ said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. ‘We look forward to working with the FDA as they review the NDA and hope the combination of cobimetinib and Zelboraf will soon become a new option for people with BRAF mutation-positive advanced melanoma.’

“In the coBRIM study, cobimetinib and Zelboraf reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by half (hazard ratio [HR]=0.51, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] 0.39-0.68; p<0.0001), with a median PFS of 9.9 months for cobimetinib plus Zelboraf compared to 6.2 months with Zelboraf alone. The safety profile was consistent with a previous study of the combination. The most common Grade 3 or higher adverse events in the combination arm included liver lab abnormalities, elevated creatine phosphokinase (CPK, an enzyme released by muscles) and diarrhea. The most common adverse events seen in the combination arm included diarrhea, nausea, rash, photosensitivity and lab abnormalities. The most common Grade 3 or higher adverse events in the combination arm included liver lab abnormalities, elevated creatine phosphokinase (CPK, an enzyme released by muscles) and diarrhea.”


FDA Grants Priority Review to Lanreotide Injection for Gastroenteropancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Editor’s note: In the U.S., a drug must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order for it to be prescribed to patients with specific diseases. Particularly promising drugs might be granted Priority Review, meaning that the FDA agrees to work with the drug manufacturer to accelerate the approval process. The FDA recently granted priority review to a drug meant to treat a subset of pancreatic cancer tumors known as gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. The drug is called lanreotide (aka Somatuline Depot). The FDA’s decision was based on promising results for the lanreotide in a clinical trial that tested it in volunteer patients.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has accepted and granted priority review to Ipsen’s supplemental New Drug Application (sNDA) for the somatostatin analog lanreotide (Somatuline Depot) 120 mg injection in the treatment of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. The FDA designates priority review status to drug candidates that have the potential to offer a significant improvement in treatment compared to currently approved options. A decision is expected in early 2015.

“In the United States, lanreotide is indicated for the long-term treatment of patients with acromegaly who have had an inadequate response to or cannot be treated with surgery and/or radiotherapy. The active substance in the drug is lanreotide acetate, a somatostatin analog that inhibits the secretion of several endocrine, exocrine, and paracrine amines and peptides.

“ ‘[Lanreotide] is the first and only somatostatin analog to demonstrate a statistically significant improvement in progression-free survival in patients with gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in a large, multinational clinical trial,’ said Cynthia Schwalm, President and CEO of Ipsen North America.”