LONDON, May 15 (Reuters) - Sales forecasts for AstraZeneca's all-important new cancer immunotherapy drug Imfinzi are set to rise after the drugmaker received an unexpectedly early boost for the medicine in lung cancer last week.
Consensus sales forecast compiled before Friday's news of the drug's success in stage III lung cancer had put AstraZeneca well behind rivals in the multibillion-dollar immuno-oncology race, Thomson Reuters data shows. (tmsnrt.rs/2pOcvj9)
Success in the stage III setting now adds an annual sales opportunity that analysts estimate is worth about $2 billion - and the British drugmaker also has an important lead of two to three years over rivals in this particular area.
There is still plenty to fight for between AstraZeneca and its main rivals, Merck & Co, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche.
Imfinzi's success in non-metastatic disease does not guarantee a positive result for AstraZeneca's big MYSTIC trial, where Imfinzi is being tested in combination with another drug in stage IV non-small cell lung cancer that has already spread beyond the lungs. Those results are due by mid-year.
Merck's Keytruda, Bristol's Opdivo and Roche's Tecentriq are all currently approved in such metastatic disease, representing a large market, since many lung cancer patients will already have reached stage IV by the time they are diagnosed.
Reporting by Ben Hirschler, editing by Pritha Sarkar