BY OUR PHARMA CORRESPONDENT
July 14, 2005, Basel: The Swiss drug major, Novartis has sought approval to use Femara to treat breast cancer in elderly women in US and Europe.
The company filed for marketing authorization applications a few days ago for the use of Femara (letrozole) in the adjuvant (post-surgery) treatment of postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive early breast cancer.
Once approved for this indication, Femara will become the only breast cancer treatment available to significantly reduce the risk of recurrence in the adjuvant setting as well as in extended adjuvant treatment following tamoxifen.
Femara represents an important advance to help increase a woman's chance of staying cancer free after initial treatment for early breast cancer. The data filed add to the already substantial body of evidence supporting the use of Femara in breast cancer, said Diane Young, vice- president and global head, Clinical Development, Novartis Oncology, in a press release.
The submissions are based on data from the Breast International Group (BIG) 1-98 study, a phase III, randomized, double-blind study that compared the safety and efficacy of adjuvant Femara vs. tamoxifen in more than 8,000 postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive early breast cancer.
In two separate pre-planned subset analyses, Femara also reduced the risk of cancer returning by 29% among patients whose initial cancer had already spread to the lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis (node-positive breast cancer) and by 30% in those who had received chemotherapy, two groups that are at increased risk of recurrence. Additionally, in node-positive patients and in patients who received adjuvant chemotherapy, the risk of distant metastases was reduced by more than 30% with Femara compared to tamoxifen.
Femara is a leading once-a-day oral aromatase inhibitor currently available in more than 90 countries worldwide. Femara is approved for extended adjuvant treatment of early breast cancer in postmenopausal women who have completed standard adjuvant tamoxifen therapy in 57 countries worldwide, including Europe as well as the United States.