Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus) has received a boost in the face of growing competition, with European Commission approval for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, well-differentiated nonfunctional neuroendocrine tumours (NET) of gastrointestinal (G!) or lung origin.

The company says that this makes Afinitor the first approved therapy in all 28 member states of the EU, plus Iceland and Norway, for this type of lung NET, and one of very few treatment options available for this type of GI NET.

Neuroendocrine tumours are a type of cancer that originate in neuroendocrine cells throughout the body, and most commonly arise in the GI tract, lungs or pancreas. Bruno Strigini, president of Novartis Oncology, says that there have previously been "few or no approved treatment options" for these patients.

This approval follows an FDA greenlight for similar indications in February.

Afinitor is also approved for indications such as renal cell carcinoma and advanced HR+/HER2- breast cancer in combination with exemestane. However, the drug has been facing increasing competition from other strong-selling cancer medicines such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Opdivo and Exelixis's Cabometyx. The company has maintained that the drug's promise lies in multiple applications for different tumour types