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FDA approves Tasigna for newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia patients


Following a priority review, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Tasigna (nilotinib) for the treatment of adult patients with newly diagnosed Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukemia (Ph+ CML) in chronic phase.

With this approval, Tasigna becomes the first new therapeutic option for newly diagnosed patients since the introduction of Glivec (imatinib)*, providing a major advance for patients with this blood cancer.

The US approval was based on results of the ENESTnd (Evaluating Nilotinib Efficacy and Safety in Clinical Trials of Newly Diagnosed Ph+ CML Patients) Phase III clinical trial, which were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).

“With the faster and deeper responses we are seeing with Tasigna, newly diagnosed CML patients will have a new and more effective treatment option,” said Hervé Hoppenot, President, Novartis Oncology.

Tasigna is a potent and selective inhibitor of the Bcr-Abl protein that causes production of cancer cells in Ph+ CML. It is also active against a broad spectrum of Bcr-Abl mutations associated with resistance to Glivec. The first clinical trials of Tasigna began only 21 months after its discovery, with the drug receiving its first regulatory approval as a second-line treatment in 2007.

In its pivotal head-to-head trial against Glivec, Tasigna surpassed Glivec in key measures of treatment efficacy, as has been previously reported. Tasigna eliminated Bcr-Abl faster than Glivec, resulting in lower rates of cancer progression even as early as 12 months. Deep reduction of Bcr-Abl, known as a major molecular response, is considered to be a critical therapeutic milestone associated with good long-term outcomes for patients with Ph+ CML[5-7]. Treatment with Tasigna led to higher rates of both major molecular response and complete cytogenetic response (elimination of the Philadelphia chromosome that is the hallmark of the cancer) compared with Glivec.

The randomized, open-label, multicenter ENESTnd trial compared the efficacy and safety of Tasigna versus Glivec in adult patients with newly diagnosed Ph+ CML in chronic phase. It is the largest global randomized comparison of two oral therapies ever conducted in newly diagnosed Ph+ CML patients in chronic phase.

Two patients on the nilotinib arm progressed to either accelerated phase or blast crisis while 17 patients on the imatinib arm progressed to either accelerated phase or blast crisis. In the study, Tasigna was well tolerated.  Fewer patients discontinued due to adverse events from the Tasigna 300 mg twice daily arm of the study compared to the Glivec 400 mg once daily arm.  No patients in the study had a prolongation of the QT interval >500 milliseconds. In addition, no sudden deaths occurred with either treatment.

Regulatory submissions for Tasigna in the first-line indication are under way worldwide, with applications currently filed in the EU, Switzerland and Japan.

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