CHMP recommends Novartis drug Afinitor® for EU approval

NovartisNovartis announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has adopted a positive opinion for Afinitor® (everolimus) tablets*, in combination with exemestane, for the treatment of hormone receptor-positive (HR+), HER2/neu-negative (HER2-) advanced breast cancer, in postmenopausal women without symptomatic visceral disease after recurrence or progression following a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor[1].

"Afinitor represents the first major innovation in HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer since aromatase inhibitors were introduced more than 15 years ago," said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology. "The Committee's support of Afinitor brings us one step closer to providing an important new option for women living with this disease."

The European Commission generally follows the recommendations of the CHMP and usually delivers its final decision within three months of the CHMP recommendation. The decision will be applicable to all 27 European Union member states plus Iceland and Norway.

The CHMP opinion was based on pivotal Phase III data from the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center BOLERO-2 (Breast cancer trials of OraL EveROlimus-2) trial[3]. The study evaluated 724 patients with HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer and found that treatment with Afinitor plus exemestane more than doubled median progression-free survival (PFS) to 7.8 months, compared to 3.2 months with exemestane alone (hazard ratio=0.45 [95% Cl: 0.38 to 0.54]; p<0.0001), by local investigator assessment[2]. An additional analysis based on an independent central radiology review showed Afinitor extended median PFS to 11.0 months compared to 4.1 months (hazard ratio=0.38 [95% CI: 0.31 to 0.48]; p<0.0001)[2].

Each year, an estimated 220,000 women globally will be diagnosed with HR+/HER2- advanced breast cancer[3]. Women with advanced breast cancer have a life expectancy of approximately 18-36 months after diagnosis[4]. Endocrine therapy remains the cornerstone of treatment for these women, but most will eventually develop treatment resistance[5]. Therapeutic resistance has been associated with overactivation of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway[5]. Afinitor targets the mTOR pathway in cancer cells. mTOR is a protein that acts as an important regulator of tumor cell division, blood vessel growth and cell metabolism[5].

Afinitor is currently being considered in this patient population for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration, the Swiss Agency for Therapeutic Products (Swissmedic) and by health authorities worldwide. Afinitor is also being studied in HER2-positive breast cancer in two Phase III trials.

About Advanced Breast Cancer
Hormone receptor-positive (HR+) advanced breast cancer is characterized by hormone receptor tumors, a group of cancers that express receptors for certain hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. Cancer cell growth is driven by these hormones[6]. The presence of estrogen receptor (ER) and/or progesterone receptor (PgR) is one of the most important predictive and prognostic markers in human breast cancers, and is collectively referred to as HR+. Approximately 70 percent of all invasive breast cancers are positive for HR expressions at the time of diagnosis[7].

Metastatic breast cancer, or stage IV breast cancer, is the most serious form of the disease and occurs when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the bones or liver[6]. Advanced stage III breast cancer (also called locally advanced) occurs when the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and/or other tissue in the area of the breast and cannot be cured by surgery or radiation treatment, but not to distant sites in the body[6].

About Afinitor (everolimus)
Afinitor® (everolimus) tablets is approved in more than 80 countries including the United States and throughout the European Union in the oncology settings of advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) following progression on or after vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapy, and in the United States and European Union for locally advanced, metastatic or unresectable progressive neuroendocrine tumors of pancreatic origin (pNET).

Everolimus is also available from Novartis for use in non-oncology patient populations under the brand names Afinitor® or Votubia®, Certican® and Zortress® and is exclusively licensed to Abbott and sublicensed to Boston Scientific for use in drug-eluting stents.

Indications vary by country and not all indications are available in every country. The safety and efficacy profile of everolimus has not yet been established outside the approved indications. Because of the uncertainty of clinical trials, there is no guarantee that everolimus will become commercially available for additional indications anywhere else in the world.

About Novartis
Novartis provides innovative healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, eye care, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines and diagnostic tools, over-the-counter and animal health products. Novartis is the only global company with leading positions in these areas. In 2011, the Group's continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 58.6 billion, while approximately USD 9.6 billion (USD 9.2 billion excluding impairment and amortization charges) was invested in R&D throughout the Group. Novartis Group companies employ approximately 124,000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world.

*Known as Votubia® (everolimus) tablets for certain patients with SEGA associated with TSC in the EU and Switzerland.

1. Novartis Data on File.
2. Piccart M et al. Everolimus for Postmenopausal Women with Advanced Breast Cancer: Updated Results of the BOLERO-2 Phase III Trial. Abstract #559. American Society of Clinical Oncology 2012 Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL.
3. Novartis Data on File.
4. J. O'Shaughnessy. "Extending Survival with Chemotherapy in Metastatic Breast Cancer." Oncology 2005, 10: 20-29.
5. Baselga, J. Everolimus in Postmenopausal Hormone-Receptor-Positive Advanced Breast Cancer. New England Journal of Medicine. February 9, 2012.
6. National Cancer Institute. "What You Need to Know About Advanced Breast Cancer." Available at: Accessed on March 8, 2012.
7. Dobrescu, Andrei. "Study of Estrogen Receptor and Progesterone Receptor Expression in Breast Ductal Carcinoma In Situ by Immunohistochemical Staining in ER/PgR-Negative Invasive Breast Cancer." May 9, 2011. Available at: Accessed on April 9, 2012.