AstraZeneca says its ovarian cancer therapy Lynparza is now available for NHS patients in England and Wales with platinum-sensitive relapsed BRCA-mutated high-grade serous forms of the disease who have had three or more courses of platinum-based chemotherapy.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidance earlier this year backing Lynparza (olaparib) as a cost-effective, post-chemotherapy maintenance treatment option for this patient group, marking the first medicine in over a decade to be recommended for this patient group.

According to AZ, clinical trials show that Lynparza provides an important quality of life benefit by significantly increasing the time it takes for the disease to progress and the time to further chemotherapy cycles. “There was an 82% risk reduction in time to progression versus standard ‘watch and wait’, which is the largest ever effect for this outcome in women with ovarian cancer (11.2 months versus 4.3 months)”, the firm noted.

“We have entered a new era for how women with ovarian cancer and a BRCA mutation are treated by the NHS in England and Wales,” said Jonathan Ledermann, Professor of Medical Oncology at the University College London Cancer Institute and Primary Investigator of the pivotal olaparib clinical trial. 

“Until now, treatment options have been limited to conventional chemotherapy and surgery,” he noted, and stressed “it is important that clinical staff offer their patients with ovarian cancer a test for a BRCA mutation as soon as possible, to find out if olaparib is an appropriate treatment option for them.”

Ovarian cancer is a serious and life-threatening condition causing more than 4,000 deaths in the UK each year. Up to 21 percent with the most aggressive form of ovarian cancer have the genetic BRCA mutation.