On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, the FDA Oncology Advisory Committe will hear Novartis and the FDA discuss the application for AFINITOR (everolimus) in the treatment of patients with advanced neuroendocrine tumors of GI, lung and panreatic origin. The drug is already approved for the treatment of advanced renal cell carcinoma and after the Advisory Committee meeting, I think that Novartis will have to settle for retaining that indication for the time being.
The FDA has raised questions about the value of progression free survival in predicting overall survival as it usually/always does with oncology drugs, as well as questions concerning the censoring of certain patients and whether the 2 Phase 3 trials support each other. Novartis will argue that the terms of the Special Protocol Assessment allowed for progression free survival as a valid endpoint. And, here is where they lose the argument. FDA will point out as they did at the Pre-NDA meeting that Novartis protocol amendments have made the SPA invalid. It is unlikely that the FDA will give in on the sanctity of the SPA contract. It is a contract between industry and the FDA, binding on both. In fact, the value of the SPA to the industry is the binding of the SPA. If the FDA bends on this, Novartis will win the approval and FDA will be able to say in the future that FDA can invalidate their agreements made under the SPA.
This is not the drug, nor the indication to test the contract. AFINITOR is on the market already and patients have access to it if their physicians feel it necessary for their treatment.