Researchers See Continued Benefit With Neratinib in Five-Year Analysis of Breast Cancer Subset

Neratinib reduced recurrence or death for some women with breast cancer, according to five-year data from a phase 3 trial.

A five-year analysis of the phase 3 ExteNET trial showed that, when compared with placebo, treatment with neratinib as extended adjuvant therapy reduced the risk of invasive disease recurrence or death by 26 percent for patients with HER2-poisitive early stage breast cancer following 12 months of Herceptin (trastuzumab).

In the analysis, which was announced by the developer of the TKI, Puma Biotechnology, the five-year invasive disease-free survival (DFS) rate with neratinib was 90.4 percent compared with 87.9 percent with placebo. For those in the study with both HR-positive and HER2-positive breast cancer, the five-year invasive DFS rate with neratinib was 91.7 percent versus 86.9 percent with placebo.

The five-year analysis was not originally planned as part of the study and was requested as part of a new drug application (NDA) for neratinib in the United States and for a marketing authorization application (MAA) in Europe. The primary endpoint of the study was the two-year invasive DFS rate, which was 93.9 percent with neratinib and 91.6 percent with placebo.

“We are very pleased with the interim five-year invasive DFS results from the ExteNET trial with neratinib,” Alan H. Auerbach, chief executive officer and president of Puma, said in a statement. “We believe these results support the long term clinical benefit of neratinib in the extended adjuvant treatment of patients with early stage HER2-positive breast cancer who have completed prior trastuzumab -based adjuvant therapy. We look forward to obtaining the full five-year DFS data, which we anticipate will be available in 2017.”

In the phase 3 study, 2,840 patients who remained disease-free following one year of treatment with adjuvant Herceptin and chemotherapy were randomized to neratinib (1,420 patients) or placebo (1,420 patients). The interval between receiving Herceptin and entering the trial was approximately 4.5 months. Neratinib was administered for 12 months at 240 mg per day.

The median age of patients in the study was 52 years and approximately 23.8 percent had node negative disease, with 46.6 percent of patients having one to three positive nodes and 29.6 percent had four or more positive nodes. Anthracyclines were administered as adjuvant chemotherapy in the majority of patients (77 percent). Appropriate endocrine therapy was administered to 94 percent of patients with HR-positive breast cancer.

As part of the update, the company also provided three- and four-year data for invasive DFS. After three years, the invasive DFS rate was 92.5 percent versus 90.3 percent and after four years the rates were 91.4 percent and 89.2 percent, in the neratinib and placebo arms, respectively. For those with HR-positive tumors (1,631 patients), the three-year DFS rates were 93.8 percent versus 89.9 percent and the four-year rates were 92.9 percent and 88.6 percent, for neratinib and placebo, respectively.

HER2 testing in the study was conducted by local assessment (25 percent) or central review (75 percent). In evaluable patients with HER2 testing completed by central review (1,777 patients), the five-year invasive DFS rate was 90.8 percent with neratinib versus 88.1 percent with placebo.

In initial assessments of safety across the full study population, 95.4 percent of patients treated with neratinib experienced all-grade diarrhea, of which 39.9 percent was grade 3/4 in severity. The trial design did not mandate antidiarrhea prophylaxis. Other gastrointestinal-related adverse events included nausea (43 percent), fatigue (27 percent), vomiting (26.2 percent) and abdominal pain (24.1 percent). In the placebo arm, 35.4 percent of patients had all-grade diarrhea, with a grade 3/4 incidence of just 1.6 percent.

A subsequent phase 2 study was conducted to examine prophylactic loperamide to address the high-rate of grade 3/4 diarrhea. Data from this study were presented during a webcast by Puma and showed that grade 3 neratinib-related diarrhea was reduced to approximately 16 percent with loperamide. The rates of all-grade diarrhea ranged from 74.1 percent to 43.5 percent, depending on the loperamide treatment scheduled.

“The results of the study demonstrate that using the loperamide prophylaxis regimen reduced both the all-grade diarrhea and the grade 3 diarrhea down to much more acceptable levels than what was seen in the phase 3 ExteNET trial,” said Auerbach, while presenting the phase 2 analysis.

An MAA was submitted to the European Medicines Agency for neratinib in late June 2016. Along with the announcement of the five-year analysis, Puma also noted that it had submitted an NDA to the FDA that included data from the ExteNET trial and the phase 2 loperamide investigation. The FDA will assign a review timeline for this application within 60 days.

“We are very pleased to announce this important regulatory milestone,” said Auerbach. “We look forward to working with the FDA during their review of this submission.”

Neratinib continues to be explored across a number of settings alone and as part of combination regimens. The agent is being looked at in combination with T-DM1 (ado- Herceptin emtansine; Kadcyla) for patients with metastatic breast cancer (NCT02236000). Additionally, a phase 2 study is looking at the treatment with or without fulvestrant, depending on estrogen receptor status, for patients with HER2-mutant breast cancer (NCT01670877 ).

In a phase 3 study, neratinib plus capecitabine is being compared with lapatinib and capecitabine for patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer following two or more prior therapies. This study, which is known as NALA, has a primary endpoint of progression-free survival and plans to enroll 600 patients. The study was opened in March 2013 and has an estimated primary completion date of May 2017 (NCT01808573).