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Novartis Tislelizumab plus Chemotherapy Significantly Improved Overall Survival as First-line Treatment for Advanced Esophageal Cancer in Phase III Study

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Novartis Tislelizumab plus Chemotherapy Significantly Improved Overall Survival as First-line Treatment for Advanced Esophageal Cancer in Phase III Study | Pharmtech Focus

Novartis today announced positive topline results from an interim analysis of the Phase III RATIONALE 306 study, which showed anti-PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor tislelizumab plus chemotherapy significantly improved overall survival (OS) compared to chemotherapy in patients with previously untreated unresectable, locally advanced, recurrent or metastatic esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), regardless of PD-L1 expression. Novartis intends to submit these data to regulatory authorities, and will collaborate with BeiGene to present them at an upcoming medical meeting.

“People living with esophageal cancer experience painful everyday challenges and typically have a poor prognosis, with a five-year survival rate of around five percent for metastatic cases, underscoring the urgency for more immunotherapy options,” said Jeff Legos, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Oncology & Hematology Development. “We plan to discuss these data with health authorities, and we will continue to expand our tislelizumab clinical development program in pursuit of novel, synergistic combinations with the ultimate goal of extending survival for more patients.”

ESCC is the most common type of esophageal cancer globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and 544,000 deaths from esophageal cancer internationally in 2020.2 In the United States, it is estimated there will be more than 20,000 new diagnoses and more than 16,000 deaths from esophageal cancers.3

RATIONALE 306 (NCT03783442) is a multi-regional Phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of tislelizumab in combination with chemotherapy versus chemotherapy alone in patients with unresectable, locally advanced recurrent or metastatic ESCC. Approximately 649 study participants were randomized 1:1 to receive either tislelizumab plus chemotherapy or chemotherapy alone. The primary endpoint is OS. Secondary endpoints include progression-free survival, objective response rate, duration of response, health-related quality of life measures and safety.

Tislelizumab is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for advanced or metastatic ESCC after prior chemotherapy. The EMA is also reviewing tislelizumab for advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after prior chemotherapy, and in combination with chemotherapy for previously untreated advanced or metastatic NSCLC.

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