Some Lung Cancer Patients May Benefit from Melanoma Drug

Specialty Pharmacy Times, May/June 2015, Volume 6, Issue 3

A small subgroup of patients with lung cancer may benefit from a drug commonly taken for the treatment of melanoma, the results of a recent clinical trial indicate.

The results of the trial, presented at the recent European Lung Cancer Conference, included patients with lung cancer who have tumors that carry specific mutations in the BRAF gene, which is commonly found in patients with melanoma and in approximately 2% of lung adenocarcinomas. Several B-Raf protein inhibitors, including vemurafenib and dabrafenib, currently treat patients with melanoma, but there have not been any drugs approved for BRAF-mutant lung cancer.

The study included 35 patients with lung cancer who carried BRAF mutations and were treated with B-Raf inhibitors between 2012 and 2014. Most of the patients were treated with vemurafenib, some were treated with dabrafenib, and 1 received sorafenib. The overall response rate was 53% based on the Response Evaluation Criteria In Solid Tumors guidelines.

The overall progression-free survival rate in these patients was 5 months. Most of the patients were pretreated and not eligible for enrollment in a clinical trial; however, the small size and retrospective nature of the study indicate the magnitude of benefit should be treated cautiously.

“The bottom line is that clinicians should be sure to test patients for so-called ‘rare’ driver mutations in lung cancer because individual patients may derive substantial benefit from targeted therapy,” researcher Oliver Gautschi, MD, said in a press release. SPT