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ASCO conference: Novartis' drug combo extends life for melanoma patients


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ASCO conference: Novartis' drug combo extends life for melanoma patients

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The 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology takes place from May 31 to June 4.
Source: ASCO

Novartis AG said a combination of its drugs Tafinlar and Mekinist prolonged the lives of melanoma patients whose cancer has spread over five years in trials with joint data.

In more than 500 patients with a commonly mutated form of the disease, 34% who were treated with the two drugs together lived at the end of five years. Of all the patients, 19% did not show signs of disease worsening in that time.

"Our analysis demonstrates that first-line therapy with Tafinlar and Mekinist leads to five-year disease control in about one-fifth of the patients and five-year survival in about one-third of those treated," said Caroline Robert, head of the dermatology unit at the Institut Gustave Roussy. "While metastatic melanoma has historically had a very poor prognosis for patients, there are many reasons to be encouraged today."

Almost all of the patients in the study had side effects from the drug combination, but no treatment-related deaths were reported.

The study is the largest collection of data in patients with the mutated disease taking the two drugs. The combination is approved in the U.S., EU and several other countries.

The drugs specifically target enzymes that signal for cell growth, which allow cancer cells to proliferate.

The 2019 American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting is expected to bring together more than 32,000 professionals from around the world, with more than 2,400 study abstracts to be presented on site and an additional 3,200 abstracts to be published online.