Inside drugmakers' strategy to boost cancer medicines with 'Lazarus effect'

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In the halls of MD Anderson Cancer Center, the drug Vitrakvi is known for having a 'Lazarus effect' in some patients because it can reverse ...

REUTERS: In the halls of MD Anderson Cancer Center, the drug Vitrakvi is known for having a"Lazarus effect" in some patients because it can reverse late-stage cancer that has defied all other treatment options.

Lilly told Reuters the company has signed an agreement with Thermo Fisher Scientific to develop a companion diagnostic test for its experimental drug, LOXO-292. According to Dr. Brian Alexander, chief medical officer of Roche's gene testing company Foundation Medicine, only about 15per cent of U.S. patients with advanced cancers get comprehensive genomic profiling. Another 25per cent get single-gene testing, he said, and a large proportion"are not getting any testing at all."

Finding patients with such rare mutations is like"looking for the needle in the haystack," said Stefan Oelrich, head of pharmaceuticals at Bayer. Cancer patients and drug companies alike got a boost last year when the federal Medicare health program for the elderly and disabled said it would cover FDA-approved tests for advanced cancer patients that can identify hundreds of genetic mutations at once. A Medicare endorsement is generally followed by widespread coverage decisions by private insurers.

Lilly bought Loxo in January for US$8 billion to profit from its targeted drugs in early-stage development. Bayer secured the rights to Loxo's two leading compounds in a 2017 alliance.


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