Pfizer, Inc can notch a victory in the war on breast cancer as their new breast cancer drug trial succeeds. While it will be some time before the drug company can put the breast cancer drug on the market for consumers, it does give those living with breast cancer some hope for alternative treatment.
Palbociclib is the name of the new oral drug in the company’s arsenal, and it’s one of the new drugs Pfizer, Inc has heavily invested in. The drug has been deemed one of the most valuable in Pfizer’s development stage, and has also been estimated to net $5 billion annually if it’s successful.
There’s no reason to think that this drug will be anything but, judging from the response from analysts thus far. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tagged palbociclib as a breakthrough drug based on initial trial data from April 2013. Drugs are usually deemed as a breakthrough drug when it offers substantial improvement in current treatment protocols for serious or life-threatening illnesses or diseases.
The breakthrough label is generally thought as one of the quickest methods of sending drugs through the approval process. There are two more trials to come of the drug, Paloma-2 and Paloma-3. Paloma-2 will test palbociclib in combination with letrozole as an initial treatment for breast cancer, and Paloma-3 will look at palbociclib in combination with fulvestrant, another hormone therapy, in patients whose breast cancer has progressed beyond initial treatment.
The success of Pfizer’s breast cancer drug trial doesn’t mean that the drug company is now king of breast cancer treatments, though. Both Novartis AG and Eli Lilly & Co are steadily working on similar treatments.
Palbociclib inhibits cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) 4/6, a known contributor to tumor cell growth and development. Senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs for Pfizer’s Oncology business unit, Dr. Mace Rothenberg, says he is thrilled at the new developments, as they can mean improved treatment options for those living with breast cancer. He says he is also encouraged by the breakthrough label the drug has received, as it means that the drug company can work closely with the FDA to ensure the treatment is brought into mainstream use with the careful consideration it should have.
Information from this current study is scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in April 2014, and the success of these trials couldn’t come at a better time. In 2011, breast cancer claimed the lives of 508,000 women, according to the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization notes that the occurrences of breast cancer in the developed world is a result of increased life expectancies, in addition to the influences of increased urbanization and western lifestyles as a whole. Breast cancer is the top cancer that kills women in both the developed and undeveloped countries. Women from undeveloped countries continue to die from the disease because generally speaking, these women are not diagnosed until the late stages of the disease.
Pfizer, Inc has also seen financial gain as a result of the success of its Phase 2 trials on palbociclib. By the time the stock market opened on Monday, shares in the drug company were up 1 percent overall to $30.75 US a share.
The success of Pfizer’s breast cancer drug trials mean that medical professionals and breast cancer patients alike will be watching news of the drug therapies closely. While the drug and accompanying therapies may not hit the market for some time to come, the hope the new therapy offers thus far may be the shot of hope many breast cancer patients might need.
By Christina St-Jean
Wall Street Journal