INSIGHT-Doctors grapple with best use of potent new cancer drugs

Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:06am EDT
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* Race is on for immunotherapy combinations in lung cancer

* Merck set to dominate in patients with high PD-L1 protein

* Seventy percent of first-line market still up for grabs

* At stake the health of millions, outlook for drugs giants

By Ben Hirschler

COPENHAGEN, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Evelyn O'Flynn still has lung cancer. But after going straight on to a new immune system-boosting drug more than a year ago, rather than traditional hard-to-tolerate chemotherapy, she is feeling great.

"It's like a miracle," said the 72-year-old ex-smoker, who is about to become a great-grandmother.

As a patient being treated with Merck & Co's immunotherapy drug Keytruda, O'Flynn is one of the lucky ones.

Data presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress suggest her early treatment with immunotherapy, as part of a clinical trial in Britain, will become standard for a growing number of patients.   Continued...