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FDA Approves Genentech’s Alecensa as First Adjuvant Treatment for People With ALK-Positive Early-Stage Lung Cancer

South San Francisco, CA — April 18, 2024 — Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), announced today that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Alecensa® (alectinib) for adjuvant treatment following tumor resection for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) (tumors ≥ 4 cm or node positive), as detected by an FDA-approved test. Alecensa is now the first and only ALK inhibitor approved for people with ALK-positive early-stage NSCLC who have undergone surgery to remove their tumor.

“With an unprecedented 76% reduction in the risk of disease recurrence or death versus chemotherapy, Alecensa significantly improves upon the standard of care for people with early-stage ALK-positive lung cancer,” said Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “At Genentech, our goal is to give patients the best chance of cure by bringing effective, targeted treatments to early-stage disease before their cancer has spread. This approval brings us one step closer to achieving that mission.”

“The approval of Alecensa marks a pivotal moment for people newly diagnosed with early-stage ALK-positive lung cancer, who until now, were not able to receive ALK-specific therapy,” said Ken Culver, Director of Research and Clinical Affairs at ALK Positive, Inc. “These patients, who are typically diagnosed at a younger age, often face recurrence and have a higher risk of developing brain metastases than those with other types of NSCLC. Now, with this significant advance, it is more important than ever that all people diagnosed with early-stage lung cancer undergo testing for ALK and other recommended biomarkers to receive the treatment most appropriate for them.”

The approval is based on positive results from the Phase III ALINA study that demonstrated Alecensa reduced the risk of disease recurrence or death by 76% (hazard ratio [HR]=0.24, 95% CI: 0.13-0.43, p<0.0001) compared with platinum-based chemotherapy in people with completely resected IB (tumor ≥ 4 cm) to IIIA (UICC/AJCC 7th edition) ALK-positive NSCLC. In an exploratory analysis, an improvement of central nervous system (CNS)-disease-free survival (DFS) was observed (HR=0.22; 95% CI: 0.08-0.58). The safety and tolerability of Alecensa in this trial were generally consistent with previous trials in the metastatic setting and no unexpected safety findings were observed. These data were presented as a late-breaking oral at the European Society of Medical Oncology Congress 2023 Presidential Symposium in October 2023 and were also recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2024.

Alecensa is a kinase inhibitor currently approved as first- and second-line treatment for ALK-positive metastatic NSCLC. It has demonstrated significant efficacy in patients, including those with CNS metastases, and now with this approval, these benefits could extend to people with early-stage disease. Routine testing of resected surgical tissue or biopsy for ALK, EGFR and PD-L1 biomarkers in patients with stage IB to IIIA and select IIIB (UICC/AJCC 8th edition) NSCLC, in addition to in the advanced setting, is recommended by international guidelines, including the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®), to support clinicians’ decision-making. About 5% of people with NSCLC are ALK-positive.

The review of this application was conducted under the FDA’s Project Orbis initiative, which provides a framework for concurrent submission and review of oncology medicines among international partners. According to the FDA, collaboration among international regulators may allow patients with cancer to receive earlier access to products in other countries where there may be significant delays in regulatory submissions. For this review, FDA collaborated with the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), Health Canada (HC), Israel’s Ministry of Health (IMoH) Pharmaceutical Administration, Switzerland’s Swissmedic, and the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (UK MHRA). Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency (ANVISA) and Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) will also be participating as Type C Project Orbis Partners. Additionally, the FDA reviewed and approved the supplemental application under its Real-Time Oncology Review pilot program, which aims to explore a more efficient review process to ensure safe and effective treatments are available to patients as early as possible. Data from the Phase III ALINA study will also be used for filing submissions to additional global health authorities, including the European Medicines Agency.

About the ALINA study

The ALINA study [NCT03456076] is a Phase III, randomized, active-controlled, multicenter, open-label study evaluating the efficacy and safety of adjuvant Alecensa® (alectinib) compared with platinum-based chemotherapy in people with resected Stage IB (tumor ≥ 4 cm) to IIIA (UICC/AJCC 7th edition) anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The study included 257 patients who were randomly assigned to either the Alecensa or chemotherapy treatment arm. The primary endpoint is disease-free survival (DFS). Secondary outcome measures include overall survival (OS), central nervous system-DFS, and percentage of patients with adverse events.

About lung cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that more than 238,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2023, and NSCLC accounts for 80-85% of all lung cancers. Treating lung cancer early, before it has spread, may help prevent the disease from returning and provide people with the best opportunity for a cure. Approximately five percent of people with NSCLC are ALK positive. ALK-positive NSCLC is often found in younger people – usually 55 and under. Today, about half of all people with early lung cancer (45-76%, depending on disease stage) still experience a cancer recurrence following surgery, despite adjuvant chemotherapy.

About Alecensa® (alectinib)

Alecensa is a prescription medicine used to treat people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that is caused by an abnormal anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. It can be used to help prevent lung cancer from coming back in patients after their tumor has been removed by surgery (adjuvant), or to treat patients when their lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic).

A doctor will perform a test to make sure that Alecensa is right for their patient.

It is not known if Alecensa is safe and effective in children.

Important Safety Information

Everyone reacts differently to treatment with Alecensa. It’s important to know the most serious and most common side effects with Alecensa.

A doctor may lower the dose or stop treatment with Alecensa if any side effects occur. Patients taking Alecensa should contact their doctor right away if they have any of the following side effects.

Alecensa may cause serious side effects, including:

Liver problems (hepatotoxicity). Liver problems are common with Alecensa and can be severe. A doctor will do blood tests at least every 2 weeks for the first 3 months, and then 1 time each month and as needed during treatment with Alecensa. Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor right away if they experience any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling less hungry than usual
  • Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
  • Dark urine
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Pain on the right side of stomach area
  • Bleeding or bruising more easily than normal

Lung problems. Alecensa may cause severe or life-threatening swelling (inflammation) of the lungs during treatment. Symptoms may be similar to those symptoms from lung cancer. Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor right away if they have any new or worsening symptoms, including trouble breathing, shortness of breath, cough, or fever.

Kidney problems. Alecensa may cause severe kidney problems that can lead to death. Patients should tell their doctor right away if they have a change in the amount or color of their urine, or if they get new or worsening swelling in their legs or feet.

Slow heartbeat (bradycardia). Alecensa may cause very slow heartbeats that can be severe. A doctor will check a patient’s heart rate and blood pressure during treatment with Alecensa. Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor right away if they feel dizzy, lightheaded, or if they faint during treatment with Alecensa. Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor if they take any heart or blood pressure medicines.

Severe muscle pain, tenderness, and weakness (myalgia). Muscle problems are common with Alecensa and can be severe. A doctor will do blood tests at least every 2 weeks for the first month and as needed during treatment with Alecensa. Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor right away if they have any new or worsening signs and symptoms of muscle problems, including unexplained muscle pain or muscle pain that does not go away, tenderness, or weakness.

Breakdown of healthy red blood cells earlier than normal (hemolytic anemia). Hemolytic anemia can happen in some people who take Alecensa. If this happens, patients may not have enough healthy red blood cells. A doctor may temporarily stop Alecensa and do blood tests, if needed, to check for this problem. If patients develop hemolytic anemia, their doctor may either restart them on Alecensa at a lower dose when the hemolytic anemia goes away, or may stop treatment with Alecensa. Patients should tell their doctor right away if they experience yellow skin (jaundice), weakness or dizziness, or shortness of breath.

Before taking Alecensa, patients should tell their doctor about all medical conditions, including if they:

  • have liver problems
  • have lung or breathing problems
  • have a slow heartbeat
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Alecensa can harm an unborn baby.
    • Females who are able to become pregnant will be tested by their doctor to see if they are pregnant before starting treatment with Alecensa. They should use effective birth control (contraception) during treatment with Alecensa and for 5 weeks after the last dose of Alecensa. Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor right away if they become pregnant during treatment with Alecensa or think they may be pregnant
    • Males who have female partners that are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control (contraception) during treatment with Alecensa and for 3 months after the last dose of Alecensa
  • are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Alecensa passes into breast milk. A patient should not breastfeed during treatment with Alecensa and for 1 week after the last dose of Alecensa. Patients should talk with their doctor about the best way to feed their baby during this time.

Patients taking Alecensa should tell their doctor about all the medicines they take, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Patients taking Alecensa should avoid spending time in the sunlight during treatment with Alecensa and for 7 days after the last dose of Alecensa. Patients taking Alecensa may be sensitive to the sun (photosensitivity), burn more easily and get severe sunburns. Patients taking Alecensa should use sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF 50 or greater to help protect against sunburn.

The most common side effects of Alecensa include:

  • constipation
  • tiredness
  • swelling in hands, feet, ankles, face, and eyelids
  • rash
  • cough

These are not all of the possible side effects of Alecensa. For more information, patients should ask their doctor or pharmacist. Patients should call their doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.. Patients and caregivers may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Please see additional Important Safety Information in full Prescribing Information, including Patient Information.

About Genentech in lung cancer

Lung cancer is a major area of focus and investment for Genentech, and we are committed to developing new approaches, medicines and tests that can help people with this deadly disease. Our goal is to provide an effective treatment option for every person diagnosed with lung cancer. We currently have six approved medicines to treat certain kinds of lung cancer and more than 10 medicines being developed to target the most common genetic drivers of lung cancer or to boost the immune system to combat the disease. Genentech is committed to improving treatment of early-stage lung cancers to help increase the chance of cure for more people.

About Genentech

Founded more than 40 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious and life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.

Source: Genentech

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