Despite Tough Competition with Rival Drugs, Novartis Afinitor Gets Approval in Europe for Lung and Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors

Novartis blockbuster drug, Afinitor, get approval from European Regulators for the treatment of advanced lung and gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors.

Last year, 2015, Novartis posted $1.61 billion sales for their flagship drug, Afinitor or Everolimus.  But Novartis has been in constant pressure in some other disease conditions because their competitor’s drug offerings are proven to be more effective in treating other diseases like kidney cancer.

Joe Jimenez, Novartis Chief Executive, acknowledge their rivalry against Opdivo, Squibb’s immunotherapy drug from Bristol-Myers and Cometriq by Exelixis’s.  Jimenez admitted that the competitor’s drug may hinder the sales growth of Afinitor.  But he stressed that their lead drug has still multiple applications to treat various cancer tumors.

The seemingly underscored drug, has regain its position, after the European Regulators approved the drug for the treatment of lung neoendocrine tumors and nonfunctional gastrointestinal tumors. These forms of cancers are commonly diagnosed at advance or late-stages wherein it is difficult for any treatment to be effective.

In the Press Release Statement of Bruno Strigini, President of Novartis Oncology, he said that he is pleased to make Afinitor available for European patients who had no or few approved treatment options.

Afinitor got FDA approval since 2012, and it indicated for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. Since then, the drug has expanded its indications, and it is now used in other forms of cancer.

Last February, FDA approved the drug for gastrointestinal and lung tumors, this has influenced the European Union to make a similar decision.

The neuroendocrine tumors are cancers that originate from the neuroendocrine cells and it commonly arise in the gastrointestinal tract, pancreas or lungs. The symptoms include pain, bleeding, intestinal obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and pneumonia.

Analyst forecasts that the approval of the European regulators may boost Afinitor’s projected sales of $2 billion in 2018.

More Room for Afinitor’s Growth

Afinitor’s sales growth may be slow as compared with their competitors but the company was able to revive its dwindling growth when they got approval from European regulators.  The approval expanded Afinitor’s target market.

Afinitor has a promising future in European market.  It is the first ever treatment approved in the European Union for advanced and progressive forms of nonfunctional lung neuroendocrine tumors and the first available oral therapy for gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors.

The neuroendocrine tumors are rare forms of cancer with poor outcome and limited treatment options.

The projected sales of Afinitor are expected to increase in the coming months. This makes the company more competitive against their rivals.

This may also signal the start of more clinical trials that will test Afinitor’s efficacy in treating other rare forms of cancers. This may also indicate more regulatory filings for rare cancer treatments.

The competition for cancer therapies continues to heat up as Biopharmaceutical companies are developing new and innovative drugs that would target advanced cancer tumors. With this, it is expected that other rare cancer tumors will have its targeted therapy, hopefully soon.


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