Healthcare: At a Glance - AstraZeneca trials latest lung cancer drug

What's going on?

ZD6474, an oncology compound from AstraZeneca, has so far shown decent results among lung cancer sufferers and is about to go into its third phase of trials.

Not exactly a zippy name, is it?

That's probably why ZD6474 is to be known as Zactima from now on. Its ability to combat tumour activity in people suffering from non-small cell lung cancer is to be assessed in these new trials, due to begin in the next few months.

Who's handling comms?

Peter Edwards, global PR manager with responsibility for AstraZeneca's oncology products, is taking the lead in-house. Meanwhile, Catherine Hartley, Zactima senior project manager at Shire Health International, is in charge of the agency side of things.

What will be their thrust in terms of comms?

This is a once-a-day oral treatment that aims to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Media relations emphasis is on business press and medical journals. The prognosis for lung cancer sufferers is generally poor, so anything that offers some hope is welcome.

And this does offer hope?

The company announced last week that the first two phases of trials had achieved one important goal: when added to chemotherapy treatment, Zactima contributed to an increase in progression-free survival (PFS) among patients - that is, the amount of time patients survive without their condition worsening - compared with sufferers who were treated with chemotherapy only. In the same phase of trials, when taken on its own, Zactima also showed an improvement in PFS when compared with AstraZeneca's other treatment, Iressa.

So, are we set to hear the words 'wonder drug'?

Certainly not from AstraZeneca, since these results are encouraging rather than overwhelming. For all the positive signs in the most recent trials, the company admits that Zactima has so far shown 'no significant effect' on the overall survival of lung cancer patients.

So what will the new lot of trials tell us?

AstraZeneca wants to find out more about both PFS and overall survival rates, perhaps with a larger sample of patients.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in