Drug cuts death risk for HER2-positive breast cancer patients, large trial shows

Enhertu, a drug made by AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo, significantly lowered the risk of death or tumor progression among patients with HER2-positive breast cancer, The Wall Street Journal reports. 

Findings from a trial, which included about 500 HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer patients who hadn't responded to earlier treatment, showed Enhertu reduced the risk of disease progression or death by nearly 72 percent compared with Kadcyla, the current standard treatment made by Roche. 

"We've never seen a magnitude of benefit like this in metastatic breast cancer before," David Fredrickson, AstraZeneca's head of oncology, told The Wall Street Journal. 

Among women treated with Enhertu, nearly 76 percent had no disease progression one year into treatment. The same was true for 34 percent of women treated with Kadcyla. 

"Patients with previously treated HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer will typically experience disease progression in less than a year with available HER2-directed treatments," said Javier Cortés, MD, PhD, head of the International Breast Cancer Center in Barcelona and one of the trial's lead investigators.

"The high and consistent benefit seen across efficacy endpoints and key subgroups of patients receiving Enhertu … is remarkable and supports the potential of Enhertu to become the new standard of care for those who have previously been treated for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer." 

The results suggest Enhertu may offer more benefit in earlier stages of treatment, and for other forms of cancer, the Journal reports. 

The findings were presented Sept. 18 at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2020 meeting.

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