Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

AstraZeneca's Blockbuster Lung Cancer Drug Has a Huge Sales Boost Ahead

By Cory Renauer – May 29, 2020 at 12:19PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Recently reported clinical trial data on Tagrisso shows that it lowers the risk of disease recurrence or death by 83% for some classes of lung cancer patients.

Oncologists' ability to treat a certain subset of early-stage lung cancer patients after they've had tumors removed is about to get a big improvement. On Friday, AstraZeneca (AZN 0.28%) released clinical trial results that show treatment with Tagrisso tablets reduced the risk of disease recurrence or death by 83% in the adjuvant setting.

The phase 3 Aduara trial enrolled people who had recently had epidermal growth factor receptor-mutated (EGFRm) tumors removed from their lungs. The study wasn't supposed to wrap up for about two more years, but independent data monitors found unequivocal evidence of a benefit from the drug during a scheduled interim assessment. As is usually the case in such situations, the trial was halted early to give those study participants who had been receiving placebos a chance to try the real thing. 

Businessperson holding a stethoscope against a stock chart.

Image source: Getty Images.

Among patients with stage 1B through 3A lung cancer, adjuvant treatment with Tagrisso reduced patients' risk of disease recurrence or death by 79%. Two years after beginning the trial, 89% of participants treated with Tagrisso were still alive and disease-free, compared to just 53% of the placebo group.

The first thing investors need to understand about cancer drugs is that long treatment durations can drive sales steadily higher for years -- not that Tagrisso needs any help. As a first-line treatment for advanced-stage lung cancer patients with EGFRm-positive tumors, Tagrisso reached an annualized sales level of $3.9 billion during the first three months of 2020. 

Adding early-stage lung cancer patients to Tagrisso's addressable patient population could more than double sales of AstraZeneca's drug over the next few years. Investigators will present their results in further detail on Sunday during the plenary session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology's first virtual meeting.

Cory Renauer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

AstraZeneca PLC Stock Quote
AstraZeneca PLC
$55.06 (0.28%) $0.15

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/30/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.