Novartis study of Afinitor® in advanced liver cancer does not meet primary endpoint of overall survival

Posted: 7 August 2013 | | No comments yet

Everolimus did not show survival benefit for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after progression on or intolerance to sorafinib…

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Novartis announced today that results of a global Phase III study showed that Afinitor® (everolimus) did not extend overall survival compared to placebo in patients with locally advanced or metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after progression on or intolerance to sorafenib[1]. Hepatocellular carcinoma, an aggressive and debilitating cancer, is the most common type of liver cancer[2].Novartis will not proceed with regulatory filings of Afinitor in this indication.

“While we are disappointed with these results, Novartis remains committed to studying everolimus through a robust research and development program to address unmet needs in different types of cancer,” said Alessandro Riva, Global Head, Oncology Development & Medical Affairs, Novartis Oncology. “To date, Afinitor has proven efficacy in a number of tumor types, including hormone receptor positive advanced breast cancer, advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and advanced renal cell carcinoma.”

The results of the HCC trial do not impact the worldwide approvals of Afinitor for these other indications. Everolimus is also in Phase III development in other diseases, including gastrointestinal and lung neuroendocrine tumors (NET), HER2 positive breast cancer, lymphoma and tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). Results of these trials are expected during 2014 and 2015.

Study details

The Phase III study, EVOLVE-1 (EVerOlimus for LiVer cancer Evaluation-1), is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examining the efficacy and safety of everolimus versus placebo, plus best supportive care (BSC), in adult patients with advanced HCC whose disease progressed after treatment with or who were intolerant to sorafenib, a targeted therapy[3]. The study results continue to be evaluated and will be presented at an upcoming medical conference.

EVOLVE-1 involved 546 patients and was conducted at 156 sites worldwide. Patients in the trial were randomized (2:1) to receive therapy with everolimus 7.5 mg/day orally plus BSC or placebo plus BSC. The primary endpoint was overall survival. Secondary endpoints included time to tumor progression, disease control rate,time to deterioration of performance status, safety and quality of life[1][3].

About everolimus

Afinitor (everolimus) tablets is approved in more than 100 countries, including the United States and throughout the European Union, in the oncology settings of advanced renal cell carcinoma following progression on or after vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-targeted therapy, and in the United States and European Union for locally advanced, metastatic or unresectable progressive neuroendocrine tumors of pancreatic origin.

Everolimus is approved as Afinitor in the European Union for the treatment of hormone receptor-positive, HER2 negative (HR+/HER2 negative) advanced breast cancer, in combination with exemestane, in postmenopausal women without symptomatic visceral disease after recurrence or progression following a non-steroidal aromatase inhibitor. In the United States, Afinitor is approved for the treatment of postmenopausal women with advanced hormone receptor-positive, HER2 negative breast cancer (advanced HR+/HER2 negative breast cancer) in combination with exemestane after failure of treatment with letrozole or anastrozole.

Everolimus is also available from Novartis for use in certain non-oncology patient populations under the brand names Afinitor® or Votubia®, Certican® and Zortress® and is exclusively licensed to Abbott and sublicensed to Boston Scientific for use in drug-eluting stents.

Indications vary by country and not all indications are available in every country. The safety and efficacy profile of everolimus has not yet been established outside the approved indications. Because of the uncertainty of clinical trials, there is no guarantee that everolimus will become commercially available for additional indications anywhere else in the world.

Important Safety Information about everolimus tablets

Afinitor/Votubia can cause serious side effects including lung or breathing problems, infections (including sepsis), and kidney failure, which can lead to death. Mouth ulcers and mouth sores are common side effects. Afinitor/Votubia can affect blood cell counts, kidney and liver function, and blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Afinitor/Votubia may cause fetal harm in pregnant women. Highly effective contraception is recommended for women of child-bearing potential while receiving Afinitor/Votubia and for up to eight weeks after ending treatment. Women taking Afinitor/Votubia should not breast feed. Fertility in women and men may be affected by treatment with Afinitor/Votubia.

The most common adverse drug reactions (incidence >=10 percent) are mouth ulcers, skin rash, feeling tired or weak, diarrhea, nausea, decreased appetite, infections (including upper respiratory tract infection), low level of red blood cells, abnormal taste, inflammation of lung tissue, weight loss, swelling of extremities or other parts of the body, nose bleeds, itching, vomiting, high level of blood cholesterol, headache, high level of blood sugar, cough, spontaneous bleeding or bruising, and breathlessness. The most common Grade 3-4 adverse drug reactions (incidence >=2 percent) are mouth ulcers, feeling tired or weak, infections, inflammation of lung tissue, diarrhea, spontaneous bleeding or bruising, low white blood cells (a type of blood cell that fights infection), and breathlessness. Cases of hepatitis B reactivation, blood clots in the lung or legs, and menstruation disorders such as absence of periods have been reported. Abnormalities were observed in hematology and clinical chemistry laboratory tests.


  1. Data on file.
  2. Faloppi L. et al. Evolving strategies for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma: from clinical-guided to molecularly-tailored therapeutic options. Cancer Treat Rev. 2011; 37(3):169-77.
  3. US National Institutes of Health. Global Study Looking at the Combination of RAD001 Plus Best Supportive Care (BSC) and Placebo Plus BSC to Treat Patients With Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma (EVOLVE-1). Available at Accessed August 2013.

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