Pfizer Canada Inc. Release: New Personalized Medicine for ALK-positive Advanced or Metastatic Non-small Cell Lung Cancer  
5/31/2012 10:14:28 AM


KIRKLAND, QC, May 30, 2012 /CNW/ - Pfizer Canada is pleased to announce that XALKORI® (crizotinib) is now available in Canada. Recently approved with conditions by Health Canada, XALKORI is an oral monotherapy for patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK)-positive advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).1 XALKORI is Pfizer Canada's first example of personalized medicine for people with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer.

Lung cancer has been one of the most difficult cancers to treatbecause symptoms typically do not appear until the disease has already reached an advanced stage.2 Even when symptoms appear, they are often mistaken for other health problems further delaying patients from receiving the care they may need.3

As a percentage of all cancer deaths, lung cancer kills more Canadians (27%) than breast cancer (7%), colorectal cancer (12%) and prostate cancer (5%).4

  • In 2012, it is estimated that 25,600 Canadians will be diagnosed with lung cancer
    • An estimated 12,300 women will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 9,400 will die from it
    • An estimated 13,300 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer and 10,800 will die from it.5

Approximately 70 Canadians are diagnosed with lung cancer every day and 55 die of lung cancer every day.5

"Little has changed in the way lung cancer has been treated in the past 40 years6," says Dr. Normand Blais, Hemato-Oncologist at CHUM - Hôpital Notre-Dame in Montreal. "Previously lung cancer was considered a single disease. With the discovery of molecular biomarkers, such as ALK, we now know there are numerous types of lung cancers. New care options for these types of cancers can give hope to those who are or will be diagnosed with them."

Non-small cell lung cancer occurs when malignant cells form in the tissues of the lung.7 Research shows that 54 per cent of lung cancers have molecular biomarkers that drive tumour growth.8 An estimated three to five per cent of non-small cell lung cancers are ALK-positive, a genetic alteration discovered less than five years ago by Japanese researcher Dr. Hiroyuki Mano and his team.9

In ALK-positive lung cancer, a normally dormant gene called ALK is fused with another gene, predominantly EML4.10 This abnormal gene fusion produces a protein that is believed to be a key driver of tumour development in cancers such as non-small cell lung cancer.

The recent discovery of ALK and other lung cancer biomarkers is the basis of an evolution in the approach to management of the disease. As Dr. Blais explains, "Oncologists, such as myself, now have the added responsibility of assessing other tumour traits with our colleagues and considering the requirement for additional molecular tests that may help select therapies for patients."

In the case of XALKORI, using a validated ALK assay, assessment for ALK-positive advanced or metastatic NSCLC should be performed by laboratories with demonstrated proficiency in the specific technology being utilized.1 If it is ALK-positive and advanced (not amenable to curative therapy) or metastatic then patients can be prescribed XALKORI.

"Personalized medicine is a shift from a one size fits all intervention to an approach where physicians select treatments based on the genetic make-up of their patient's disease," says Richard Fajzel, General Manager of Oncology Business Unit, Pfizer Canada. "Pfizer Canada is excited to be part of this new landscape that helps Canadians access new innovative cancer care."

The five year survival rate for Canadians with lung cancer was 16 per cent between 2004 and 2006.11 "Recent scientific discoveries about the disease have led to the development of personalized medicines such as XALKORI and IRESSATM which treat lung cancers that have different genetic drivers. These treatments represent a step forward for our community," says Hailee Morrison, Executive Director of Lung Cancer Canada. "We are eager for the day when the survival rate grows."

Patients who have advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer should speak with their doctor to determine if a molecular test is required and whether XALKORI is an appropriate treatment for them.

About Pfizer Canada
Pfizer Canada Inc. is the Canadian operation of Pfizer Inc, one of the world's leading biopharmaceutical companies. The company is one of the largest contributors to health research in Canada. Our diversified health care portfolio includes biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines for humans and animals, and many of the world's best-known consumer products.

Every day, Pfizer Canada employees work to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. We apply science and our global resources to improve the health and well-being of Canadians at every stage of life. Our commitment is reflected in everything Pfizer does, from our disease awareness initiatives to our community partnerships, to our belief that it takes more than medication to be truly healthy.

To learn more about Pfizer's More than Medication philosophy and programs, visit To learn more about Pfizer Canada, visit

Lung Cancer Canada was founded in 2002 by Dr. Yee Ung, radiation oncologist at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Care Centre, Magdalene Winterhoff, oncology social worker at Toronto Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Care Centre and Ralph Gouda, who lost his wife to lung cancer. Originally known as the Alliance for Lung Cancer Awareness, Support and Education, the name changed to Lung Cancer Canada in 2004. Our mission is to increase awareness about lung cancer, support patients living with lung cancer and the individuals who care for them and provide educational resources to lung cancer patients, their family members and health care professionals. Visit


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Image with caption: "Pfizer Canada XALKORI 200 mg (CNW Group/PFIZER CANADA INC.)". Image available at: