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GSK Blood Cancer Drug Nearly Halves Death Risk in Late-Stage Trial

GSK Blood Cancer Drug Nearly Halves Death Risk in Late-Stage Trial

GSK’s multiple myeloma drug Blenrep has shown promising results in a late-stage study, nearly halving the risk of disease progression or death compared to standard-of-care treatments for this incurable blood cancer. Data from the trial, involving 302 patients with relapsed or difficult-to-treat multiple myeloma, was presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago on Sunday.

In the study, 71% of patients who received Blenrep combined with the steroid dexamethasone and pomalidomide were alive without their disease worsening after one year. This compares favorably with a progression-free survival (PFS) rate of 51% for those treated with pomalidomide, dexamethasone, and bortezomib. Pomalidomide is a generic version of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Pomalyst, while bortezomib is the generic form of Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ Velcade.

Hesham Abdullah, GSK’s oncology executive, emphasized the potential benefits of Blenrep, noting its outpatient administration, absence of hospitalization requirements, availability in community settings, and lack of manufacturing challenges faced by cell therapies.

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Despite setbacks, including its withdrawal from the U.S. market in 2022 due to a failure to demonstrate superiority over an existing treatment in a separate study, Blenrep’s latest trial results are encouraging. The top-line data released in March indicated that Blenrep significantly improved PFS over the current standard treatment regimen, suggesting a potential comeback for the drug.

With a median follow-up of 21.8 months, more than half of the Blenrep patients were alive without disease progression, compared to 12.7 months PFS for the standard of care. GSK highlighted the trial’s results as a sign that the Blenrep combination could redefine treatment for multiple myeloma if approved.

GSK plans to file marketing applications with global regulators in the second half of 2024. Current treatments for multiple myeloma include Johnson & Johnson’s Darzalex and other generic cancer drugs. Recently, the U.S. FDA approved two cell therapies, J&J’s Carvykti and Bristol Myers’ Abecma, as earlier lines of treatment in less severe multiple myeloma cases.

Eye-related side effects led to a 9% treatment discontinuation rate in the study but were generally reversible and manageable through dose adjustments. Multiple myeloma, the second most common blood cancer globally, originates in plasma cells in bone marrow and disrupts normal blood cell production. The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 35,780 new multiple myeloma cases and 12,540 related deaths in the United States this year.