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AstraZeneca's Tagrisso better than Roche's drug in increasing patient's survival

AstraZeneca PLC's lung cancer drug Tagrisso was significantly better during a late-stage study in increasing the length of time patients survived with the disease compared to the pharmaceutical giant's other therapy Iressa or Roche Holding AG's Tarceva.

The phase 3 trial, called Flaura, evaluated Tagrisso's efficacy compared to the two drugs in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, whose disease had spread. The Cambridge, U.K.-based company previously announced in 2017 that the drug was significantly better at stopping the disease from getting worse or delaying death in patients with NSCLC, the primary goal of the trial.

Now, AstraZeneca says the trial also met its secondary goal of increasing the overall survival of patients.

The drug is already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission as a stand-alone initial treatment for adult patients with NSCLC that has advanced or spread to other parts of the body and exhibits mutations related to epidermal growth factor receptor, or EGFR, a protein associated with cell division.

Tagrisso, which is expected to become the U.K. drugmaker's best-selling drug in 2019, netted $1.41 billion in global sales during the first half of the year.

The U.K.'s pricing watchdog, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, turned down the cancer pill in July, ruling that Tagrisso, or osimertinib, is not cost-effective. A pack of 30 tablets in the U.S. costs more than $15,000.

THe watchdog has recommended four other drugs of this type for untreated EGFR-positive NSCLC, including Iressa, Tarceva, Boehringer Ingelheim Corp.'s Giotrif and Pfizer Inc.'s Vizimpro.