The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved Tecentriq (atezolizumab) in combination with chemotherapy (carboplatin and etoposide) for the first-line treatment of adults with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC).
This represents the first new treatment for the disease in more than two decades.
Approval is based on phase III IMpower133 study, which is the first Phase III study with an immunotherapy-based combination to show improvement in overall survival and progression-free survival in first-line treatment of ES-SCLC.
The study demonstrated a 30 per cent reduction in risk of death and longer progression free survival (PFS) in patients treated with Tecentriq and chemotherapy compared to chemotherapy alone.
Small cell lung cancer is an aggressive form of the disease accounting for around 15 to 20 per cent of all lung cancers.
According to Lung Foundation Australia CEO Mark Brooke, survival rates remain unacceptably low, and there has been limited improvement in the treatment of small cell lung cancer over the past two decades.
“The availability of an additional treatment option for ES-SCLC patients will be warmly received by the lung cancer community,” said Mr Brooke.
Dr Steven Kao, medical oncologist at the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Sydney, welcomed the availability of an additional treatment option for Australians with ES-SCLC.
“ES-SCLC progresses very rapidly and is extremely difficult to treat. There have been very few advances in the treatment of the disease in recent decades, with more than 40 Phase III trials having failed in SCLC since 1970,” he said.
“The approval of an additional treatment for ES-SCLC represents a significant step forward in the management of this devastating disease, which will be welcomed by patients and clinicians alike.”
Roche is working with the government and Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) to establish equitable access to Tecentriq for patients with SCLC. In the interim, the pharmaceutical company will open an access program covering a proportion of treatment costs to make Tecentriq more accessible to patients with SCLC.