AZ's $2B ovarian cancer drug-in-development could be a 2-for-1 deal
- Lynparza (olaparib) is being developed for treatment of ovarian cancer. But now, researchers at AstraZeneca are also evaluating its potential for treatment of prostate cancer.
- Olaparib has also been tested for treatment of breast and gastric cancers.
- Olaparib is part of a new class of oncology drugs called PARP inhibitors, or poly ADP-ribose polymerase inhibitors.
Development of olaparib has been focused around cancers with BRCA gene mutations, and PARPs work by blocking cancer-cell self-repair. Based on its development program, AstraZeneca has projected up to $2 billion in earnings from this oncologic candidate. However, the regulatory path has not been smooth.
This past summer, the FDA voted against accelerated review of olaparib by 11 to 2, and although the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has been largely positive about olaparib, the drug still has several months to go before potential approval.
As far as staving off the merger overtures from Pfizer, AstraZeneca has doggedly continued to develop its pipeline with a focus on its oncology franchise. Apparently, its efforts have worked.