New Delhi: A once-daily pill halved people’s risk of dying from a common lung cancer when they took the drug after tumour-removal surgery, trial results from a global study shows.

The research, published recently in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that taking the drug osimertinib after surgery dramatically reduced the risk of patients dying by 51 per cent.

The resaerchers randomly assigned eligible patients in a 1:1 ratio to receive osimertinib (80 mg once daily) or placebo until disease recurrence was observed.

Of 682 patients who underwent randomisation, 339 received osimertinib also known as Tagrisso and made by AstraZeneca, and 343 received placebo.

In the primary analysis population, an estimated 85 per cent of patients treated with osimertinib were alive at five years compared to 73 per cent on placebo, the researchers said.

In the overall trial population, an estimated 88 per cent of patients treated with osimertinib were alive at five years compared to 78 per cent on placebo, they said.

The study found that osimertinib reduced the risk of death by 51 per cent compared to placebo in both the primary analysis population, the researchers said.

“These highly anticipated overall survival results, with 88 per cent of patients alive at five years, are a momentous achievement in the treatment of early-stage EGFR-mutated lung cancer,” said principal investigator in the trial, Roy S. Herbst, Deputy Director and Chief of Medical Oncology at Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital, US.

“These data underscore that adjuvant treatment with osimertinib provides patients with the best chance of long-term survival,” Herbst said.

Susan Galbraith, Executive Vice President, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca, said osimertinib cut the risk of death by more than half in the adjuvant setting, further establishing this transformative medicine as the backbone treatment for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-mutated lung cancer.

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“These results emphasise the importance of diagnosing patients with lung cancer early, testing for EGFR mutations and treating all those with an EGFR mutation with Tagrisso ( osimertinib),” Galbraith said.

The trial results were presented on Monday during the Plenary Session at the 2023 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, US.

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