Novartis reports clinically relevant improvement in median overall survival data in final analysis of pivotal NETTER-1 study with targeted radioligand therapy Lutathera

  • At final analysis, study showed clinically relevant improvement in median overall survival with a difference of 11.7 months between arms (Hazard ratio (HR): 0.84 with 95% CI: (0.60, 1.17) (p=0.30, two-sided))1 
  • No new safety signals emerged in long-term follow-up with median of 6.3 years; safety profile consistent with previously reported results1
  • Previously reported primary analysis demonstrated statistically significant improvement in progression free survival2
  • Novartis is committed to reimagining cancer through radioligand therapy with more than 15 dedicated research and discovery programs; recent investments and partnerships further strengthen platform capabilities


Basel, June 3, 2021 - Novartis today reported the final analysis from the NETTER-1 phase III study comparing treatment using Lutathera (INN: lutetium (177Lu) oxodotreotide / USAN: lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) plus 30 mg octreotide LAR to 60 mg of octreotide LAR in patients with midgut neuroendocrine tumors. The previously reported primary analysis of the trial demonstrated a statistically significant improvement in progression free survival (PFS) (HR: 0.18*, p < 0.0001)3. In the final analysis of overall survival, a secondary objective of the trial, treatment with Lutathera resulted in a clinically relevant prolongation in median overall survival of 11.7 months [48.0 months (95%CI: 37.4-55.2) compared to the control arm (36.3 months (95%CI: 25.9-51.7)]1. While this analysis did not reach statistical significance (Hazard ratio for OS (HR): 0.84 with 95% CI: (0.60, 1.17) (p=0.30, two-sided))1, the analyses of overall survival may have been impacted by multiple factors, including the crossover of patients from the control arm receiving subsequent radioligand therapy (36% of patients) as well as heterogenous subsequent anti-cancer treatments in both study arms1. No new safety signals emerged in the final analysis1. These results will be presented during the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting on June 4.

Jonathan Strosberg, MD, Principal Investigator and Associate Professor, Section Head, Neuroendocrine Tumor Program at Moffitt Cancer Center, said, "Lutathera plus long-acting octreotide was associated with a nearly 12-month difference in median overall survival compared to high-dose long-acting octreotide in these difficult to treat patients with inoperable midgut NETs progressing under standard dose octreotide LAR treatment. While not statistically significant, I consider this difference to be clinically relevant for these patients. It is also important to emphasize that PFS was the primary endpoint of this study. Moreover, 36% of patients in the control arm crossed over to receive subsequent radioligand treatment, which may have impacted the comparison of survival between both study arms."

"We are proud of our 30-year legacy as an innovator for patients in the neuroendocrine tumor community," said John Tsai, Head of Global Drug Development and Chief Medical Officer for Novartis. "Since its approval by the European Commission in 2017 and the FDA in 2018, Lutathera has been administered to more than 9,000 gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (GEP-NET) patients in Europe and the United States1. We believe in the potential of targeted radioligand therapy and are investing in new discovery and expansion of this important platform, including exploration of new radioisotopes and combinations with complementary mechanisms of action, such as immunotherapy and inhibitors of DNA damage response."

At this final analysis, no new safety signals emerged in the long-term safety follow-up with a median of 6.3 years. In terms of secondary hematological malignancies, no new cases of MDS or acute leukemia were reported in the long term follow up4.

Radioligand therapy combines a targeting compound that binds to receptors expressed by tumors and a radioactive isotope, causing DNA damage that inhibits tumor growth and replication and may lead to cell death5-7. In the case of Lutathera, it binds to somatostatin receptor type 2, which is over-expressed on certain types of cells, such as gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cells8,9.

Novartis has established global expertise and specialized supply chain and manufacturing capabilities across its network of four radioligand therapy production sites, and is further increasing capacity to ensure delivery of future targeted radioligand therapies to patients in need. Novartis is the only pharmaceutical company which is pursuing four different cancer treatment platforms. These include targeted radioligand therapy, cell and gene therapy, targeted therapy and immunotherapy, with an opportunity to combine these platforms for the best outcomes for each cancer patient.

Visit  www.hcp.novartis.com­/virtual-congress/a-2021/  for the latest information from Novartis, including our commitment to the Oncology community, and access to our ASCO21 Virtual Scientific Program data presentations (for registered participants).

* HR: 0.21 (0.13, 0.32) in the US Package Insert

About NETTER-1
NETTER-1 is a Phase III international, multicenter, controlled, randomized study that compared treatment using Lutathera every eight weeks plus best standard of care (octreotide LAR 30 mg) to 60 mg of octreotide LAR (dosed every four weeks) in patients with inoperable midgut NETs progressing under standard dose octreotide LAR treatment and overexpressing somatostatin receptors3.

The primary endpoint was to compare the progression-free survival (PFS) after treatment with Lutathera plus octreotide LAR 30 mg versus octreotide LAR 60 mg using RECIST 1.1 criteria3. Secondary trial endpoints included comparing objective response rate, overall survival, time to tumor progression, duration of response and safety between the two study arms3.

About GEP-NETs Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a type of cancer that originate in neuroendocrine cells throughout the body. NETs are commonly considered slow-growing malignancies. However, some NETs are associated with rapid progression and poor prognosis10-11. In many cases, NET diagnosis is delayed until patients have advanced disease12. Symptoms such as fatigue, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can occur on a daily basis13. Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) are subdivided into two categories: tumors of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and pancreas14. There is a need for additional treatment options for inoperable or advanced GEP-NET, including those who have progressed while taking first-line somatostatin analogs.

The estimated age-adjusted incidence, or rate of new cases of NETs in the United States is approximately 6.98/100,000 per year (as of 2012), while the estimated 20-year limited-duration prevalence for 2014, based on the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, was 171,32111. Even though NETs have historically been considered to be rare (orphan disease), their incidence has grown over 500% over the last 3 decades 10,11,12,15.

About Lutathera
Lutathera (lutetium Lu 177 dotatate) is an Advanced Accelerator Applications product approved in the United States for the treatment of somatostatin receptor-positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs), including foregut, midgut and hindgut neuroendocrine tumors in adults16.

Lutathera (lutetium (177Lu) oxodotreotide) is also approved in Europe for the treatment of unresectable or metastatic, progressive, well differentiated (G1 and G2), somatostatin receptor positive gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) in adults3.