Zosia Chustecka

June 03, 2016

CHICAGO — News from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting starts to flow today. A number of abstracts are released this afternoon at the first press briefing, although the actual presentations of these data will take place on Sunday, June 5.

Improved survival in patients with glioma is the most important clinical news to be released today (abstract LBA2000). The CATNON study shows that adding chemotherapy with temozolomide to radiation improved 5-year survival to 56%, compared with 44% for radiation alone.

"This could change the standard of care for glioma patients," commented Richard Schilsky, MD, ASCO chief medical officer and former chief of the section of hematology–oncology at the University of Chicago. He noted that temozolomide plus radiotherapy is already the standard of care for the more aggressive brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme.

Dr Schilsky was also intrigued by the HERITAGE study (abstract LBA503), showing that a biosimilar trastuzumab product is noninferior to the brand-name product Herceptin (Roche/Genentech).

"This is a very well-conducted prospective randomized noninferiority study that shows that overall response rates for the biosimilar are similar when both drugs are given with chemotherapy, as they would typically be given in clinical practice," he commented.

But will clinicians be happy to prescribe the biosimilar instead of the brand-name drug? And what about other biosimilars, which may not have such rigorous clinical data?

In addition, there are still important issues that remain to be seen, Dr Schilsky said, including how prices for biosimilar and brand-name products will compare, and how medial insurance companies and pharmacy benefit managers will prioritize the biosimilar versus Herceptin.

Also announced on Friday will be results from the OV21/PETROC study in ovarian cancer, suggesting that intraperitoneal (IP) chemotherapy is superior to that administered intravenously (abstract LBA5503).

There have been several previous studies suggesting that IP chemotherapy gives superior results, but also studies that have failed to show any advantage over the intravenous route, commented Dr Schilsky. "This study will not settle that debate," he predicted, noting that it was a small study (275 patients) and the 9-month data presented is a rather preliminary end point.

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