An experimental lung cancer pill from AstraZeneca delays disease progression by over a year survival data for investigational non-small cell lung cancer, according to new data presented at a medical meeting on Friday, the company said in a statement.
AZD9291, which the company expected to file for US approval in the second quarter of 2015, is one of a number of cancer medicines with which the company looks to rebuild its sales following patent losses on older drugs.
According to an analysis presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference in Geneva, the median survival period for patients taking the drug was recorded at 13.5 months.
AZD9291, targeted a genetic mutation that helped tumours evade current lung cancer pills, including AstraZeneca's own established product Iressa.
During its defence against a $118-billion takeover attempt by Pfizer last year, AstraZeneca said it expected AZD9291 to sell as much as $3 billion a year.
The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker expected to file AZD9291 for lung cancer for US approval in the coming weeks. AstraZeneca plans to bring six new cancer medicines to patients by 2020.
AstraZeneca's cancer portfolio includes drugs that harness the body's immune system to fight tumours.
The drugmaker desperately needs new successful drugs as it seeks to line up new drugs after it lost patent protection on several bestsellers such as stomach pill Nexium and cholesterol fighter Crestor.
Chief executive Pascal Soriot pledged to boost the company sales to $45 billion by 2023, from $26 billion last year – a target many analysts see as ambitious.
In a separate development, the US Food and Drug Administration, granted orphan drug designation for AstraZeneca's selumetinib, which should pave the way for its regulatory approval. It would be the first drug for the treatment of uveal melanoma, a rare disease in which cancer cells formed in the tissues of the eye.
Other positive development for the company in recent days has come with orphan drug status for tremelimumab in the US. The drug treats mesothelioma, a rare, aggressive cancer that most often affects the lining of the lungs and abdomen.
AstraZeneca would announce first-quarter results next Friday, at its annual meeting. Best seller sales had been eroded by competition from generic drugs, and the company would also take a hit from the strong dollar.