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Novartis' Kisqali helps prolong survival in breast cancer patients

Novartis AG said its cancer treatment Kisqali helped prolong survival in advanced breast cancer patients when combined with tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor plus goserelin in a phase 3 study.

Aromatase inhibitors, such as Pfizer Inc.'s Aromasin, block estrogen production in the body, thereby stopping its ability to fuel some breast cancers. Goserelin was used as an initial endocrine-based therapy which slow or stop the growth of hormone-sensitive tumors by blocking the body's ability to produce hormones or by interfering with effects of hormones on breast cancer cells.

The cancer cocktail was better than a combination of tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor plus goserelin in the Monaleesa-7 study which involved premenopausal or perimenopausal women with HR+/HER2- advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Patients in the Kisqali arm had a median progression-free survival of 23.8 months, a measure of how long a patient lived without the disease worsening, compared to 13 months in the tamoxifen, or an aromatase inhibitor, plus goserelin arm.

Kisqali, also known as ribociclib, is a new type of drug that slows the progression of cancer by inhibiting two proteins called CDK 4 and 6.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Kisqali in March as a first-line treatment for postmenopausal women with HR+/HER2- advanced or metastatic breast cancer in combination with an aromatase inhibitor allowing it to compete with Pfizer's CDK4/6 inhibitor Ibrance.