IMFINZI® (durvalumab) Granted Orphan Drug Designation in the US for Advanced Biliary Tract Cancer

AstraZeneca’s IMFINZI (durvalumab) has been granted Orphan Drug Designation (ODD) in the US for the treatment of advanced biliary tract cancer (BTC), a group of rare and aggressive gastrointestinal (GI) cancers in the hepatobiliary system.1 BTC is the second most frequent malignancy confined to the liver, after hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).2

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants ODD to medicines intended for the treatment, diagnosis or prevention of rare diseases or disorders that affect fewer than 200,000 people in the US.3

According to recent estimates, about 210,000 people were diagnosed with BTC around the world in 20174, with approximately 12,000 people in the US diagnosed with BTC in 2019.2 Patients with BTC have a poor prognosis, with just 5% to 15% of all patients alive five years after diagnosis. 5

The TOPAZ-1 Phase III trial is investigating IMFINZI in combination with chemotherapy as a 1st-line treatment for patients with advanced BTC. 6 TOPAZ-1 is the first large Phase III, global, immunotherapy plus chemotherapy trial for patients with advanced BTC in the 1st-line setting.

AstraZeneca has an extensive development program in GI cancers, including several ongoing Phase III trials with IMFINZI in different combinations spanning from early to late-stage disease. 7

IMFINZI is not currently approved to treat BTC in any country.

Important Safety Information
There are no contraindications for IMFINZI® (durvalumab).

Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions
Important immune-mediated adverse reactions listed under Warnings and Precautions may not include all possible severe and fatal immune-mediated reactions. Immune-mediated adverse reactions, which may be severe or fatal, can occur in any organ system or tissue. Immune-mediated adverse reactions can occur at any time after starting treatment or after discontinuation. Monitor patients closely for symptoms and signs that may be clinical manifestations of underlying immune-mediated adverse reactions. Evaluate liver enzymes, creatinine, and thyroid function at baseline and periodically during treatment. In cases of suspected immune-mediated adverse reactions, initiate appropriate workup to exclude alternative etiologies, including infection. Institute medical management promptly, including specialty consultation as appropriate. Withhold or permanently discontinue IMFINZI depending on severity. See Dosing and Administration for specific details. In general, if IMFINZI requires interruption or discontinuation, administer systemic corticosteroid therapy (1 mg to 2 mg/kg/day prednisone or equivalent) until improvement to Grade 1 or less. Upon improvement to Grade 1 or less, initiate corticosteroid taper and continue to taper over at least 1 month. Consider administration of other systemic immunosuppressants in patients whose immune-mediated adverse reactions are not controlled with corticosteroid therapy.

Immune-Mediated Pneumonitis
IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated pneumonitis. The incidence of pneumonitis is higher in patients who have received prior thoracic radiation. In patients who did not receive recent prior radiation, the incidence of immune-mediated pneumonitis was 2.0% (28/1414), including fatal (<0.1%), and Grade 3-4 (0.4%) adverse reactions. In patients who received recent prior radiation, the incidence of pneumonitis (including radiation pneumonitis) in patients with unresectable Stage III NSCLC following definitive chemoradiation within 42 days prior to initiation of IMFINZI in PACIFIC  was 16.6% (79/475) in patients receiving IMFINZI and 13.2% (31/234) in patients receiving placebo. Of the 79 patients who received IMFINZI, 1.1% were fatal and 2.5% were Grade 3-4 adverse reactions. The frequency and severity of immune-mediated pneumonitis in patients who did not receive definitive chemoradiation prior to IMFINZI were similar in patients who received IMFINZI as a single agent or with ES-SCLC when in combination with chemotherapy.

Immune-Mediated Colitis
IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated colitis that is frequently associated with diarrhea. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection/reactivation has been reported in patients with corticosteroid-refractory immune-mediated colitis. In cases of corticosteroid-refractory colitis, consider repeating infectious workup to exclude alternative etiologies. Immune-mediated colitis occurred in 1.6% (31/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including Grade 4 (0.1%) and Grade 3 (0.3%) adverse reactions.

Immune-Mediated Hepatitis
IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated hepatitis. Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred in 1.0% (19/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including fatal (<0.1%) and Grade 3 (0.6%) adverse reactions.

Immune-Mediated Endocrinopathies

  • Adrenal Insufficiency: IMFINZI can cause primary or secondary adrenal insufficiency. For Grade 2 or higher adrenal insufficiency, initiate symptomatic treatment, including hormone replacement as clinically indicated. Immune-mediated adrenal insufficiency occurred in 0.4% (7/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including Grade 3 (<0.1%) adverse reactions.
  • ·Hypophysitis: IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated hypophysitis. Hypophysitis can present with acute symptoms associated with mass effect such as headache, photophobia, or visual field cuts. Hypophysitis can cause hypopituitarism. Initiate symptomatic treatment including hormone replacement as clinically indicated. Grade 3 hypophysitis/hypopituitarism occurred in <0.1% (1/1889) of patients who received IMFINZI.
  • Thyroid Disorders: IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated thyroid disorders. Thyroiditis can present with or without endocrinopathy. Hypothyroidism can follow hyperthyroidism. Initiate hormone replacement therapy for hypothyroidism or institute medical management of hyperthyroidism as clinically indicated.
  • Thyroiditis: Immune-mediated thyroiditis occurred in 0.4% (7/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI.
  • Hyperthyroidism: Immune-mediated hyperthyroidism occurred in 1.4% (27/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI.
  • Hypothyroidism: Immune-mediated hypothyroidism occurred in 7.3% (137/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including Grade 3 (<0.1%) adverse reactions.
  • Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, which can present with diabetic ketoacidosis: Monitor patients for hyperglycemia or other signs and symptoms of diabetes. Initiate treatment with insulin as clinically indicated. Grade 3 immune-mediated type 1 diabetes mellitus occurred in <0.1% (1/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI.

Immune-Mediated Nephritis with Renal Dysfunction
IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated nephritis. Immune-mediated nephritis occurred in 0.3% (5/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including Grade 3 (0.1%) adverse reactions.

Immune-Mediated Dermatology Reactions
IMFINZI can cause immune-mediated rash or dermatitis. Exfoliative dermatitis, including Stevens Johnson Syndrome (SJS), drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS), and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), have occurred with PD-1/L-1 blocking antibodies. Topical emollients and/or topical corticosteroids may be adequate to treat mild to moderate non-exfoliative rashes. Immune-mediated rash or dermatitis occurred in 1.6% (30/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including Grade 3 (0.4%) adverse reactions.

Other Immune-Mediated Adverse Reactions
The following clinically significant, immune-mediated adverse reactions occurred at an incidence of less than 1% each in patients who received IMFINZI or were reported with the use of other PD-1/PD-L1 blocking antibodies.

  • Cardiac/vascular: Myocarditis, pericarditis, vasculitis.
  • Nervous system: Meningitis, encephalitis, myelitis and demyelination, myasthenic syndrome/myasthenia gravis (including exacerbation), Guillain-Barré syndrome, nerve paresis, autoimmune neuropathy.
  • Ocular: Uveitis, iritis, and other ocular inflammatory toxicities can occur. Some cases can be associated with retinal detachment. Various grades of visual impairment to include blindness can occur. If uveitis occurs in combination with other immune-mediated adverse reactions, consider a Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-like syndrome, as this may require treatment with systemic steroids to reduce the risk of permanent vision loss.
  • Gastrointestinal: Pancreatitis including increases in serum amylase and lipase levels, gastritis, duodenitis.
  • Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders: Myositis/polymyositis, rhabdomyolysis and associated sequelae including renal failure, arthritis, polymyalgia rheumatic.
  • Endocrine: Hypoparathyroidism
  • Other (hematologic/immune): Hemolytic anemia, aplastic anemia, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, histiocytic necrotizing lymphadenitis (Kikuchi lymphadenitis), sarcoidosis, immune thrombocytopenia, solid organ transplant rejection.

Infusion-Related Reactions
IMFINZI can cause severe or life-threatening infusion-related reactions. Monitor for signs and symptoms of infusion-related reactions. Interrupt, slow the rate of, or permanently discontinue IMFINZI based on the severity. See Dosing and Administration for specific details. For Grade 1 or 2 infusion-related reactions, consider using pre-medications with subsequent doses. Infusion-related reactions occurred in 2.2% (42/1889) of patients receiving IMFINZI, including Grade 3 (0.3%) adverse reactions.

Complications of Allogeneic HSCT after IMFINZI
Fatal and other serious complications can occur in patients who receive allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) before or after being treated with a PD-1/L-1 blocking antibody. Transplant-related complications include hyperacute graft-versus-host-disease (GVHD), acute GVHD, chronic GVHD, hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) after reduced intensity conditioning, and steroid-requiring febrile syndrome (without an identified infectious cause). These complications may occur despite intervening therapy between PD-1/L-1 blockade and allogeneic HSCT. Follow patients closely for evidence of transplant-related complications and intervene promptly. Consider the benefit versus risks of treatment with a PD-1/L-1 blocking antibody prior to or after an allogeneic HSCT.

Embryo-Fetal Toxicity
Based on its mechanism of action and data from animal studies, IMFINZI can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. Advise pregnant women of the potential risk to a fetus. Advise females of reproductive potential to use effective contraception during treatment with IMFINZI and for at least 3 months after the last dose of IMFINZI.

There is no information regarding the presence of IMFINZI in human milk; however, because of the potential for adverse reactions in breastfed infants from IMFINZI, advise women not to breastfeed during treatment and for at least 3 months after the last dose.

Adverse Reactions

  • In patients with UC in Study 1108 (n=182), the most common adverse reactions (≥15%) were fatigue (39%), musculoskeletal pain (24%), constipation (21%), decreased appetite (19%), nausea (16%), peripheral edema (15%), and urinary tract infection (15%). The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions (≥3%) were fatigue, urinary tract infection, musculoskeletal pain, abdominal pain, dehydration, and general physical health deterioration
  • In patients with UC in Study 1108, discontinuation due to adverse reactions occurred in 3.3% of patients. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 46% of patients. The most frequent serious adverse reactions (>2%) were acute kidney injury (4.9%), urinary tract infection (4.4%), musculoskeletal pain (4.4%), liver injury (3.3%), general physical health deterioration (3.3%), sepsis, abdominal pain, and pyrexia/tumor associated fever (2.7% each)
  • In patients with Stage III NSCLC in the PACIFIC study receiving IMFINZI (n=475), the most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were cough (40%), fatigue (34%), pneumonitis or radiation pneumonitis (34%), upper respiratory tract infections (26%), dyspnea (25%), and rash (23%). The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse reactions (≥3%) were pneumonitis/radiation pneumonitis (3.4%) and pneumonia (7%)
  • In patients with Stage III NSCLC in the PACIFIC study receiving IMFINZI (n=475), discontinuation due to adverse reactions occurred in 15% of patients in the IMFINZI arm. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 29% of patients receiving IMFINZI. The most frequent serious adverse reactions (≥2%) were pneumonitis or radiation pneumonitis (7%) and pneumonia (6%). Fatal pneumonitis or radiation pneumonitis and fatal pneumonia occurred in <2% of patients and were similar across arms
  • In patients with extensive-stage SCLC in the CASPIAN study receiving IMFINZI plus chemotherapy (n=265), the most common adverse reactions (≥20%) were nausea, fatigue/asthenia, and alopecia. The most common Grade 3 or 4 adverse reaction (≥3%) was fatigue/asthenia (3.4%)
  • In patients with extensive-stage SCLC in the CASPIAN study receiving IMFINZI plus chemotherapy (n=265), IMFINZI was discontinued due to adverse reactions in 7% of the patients receiving IMFINZI plus chemotherapy. Serious adverse reactions occurred in 31% of patients receiving IMFINZI plus chemotherapy. The most frequent serious adverse reactions reported in at least 1% of patients were febrile neutropenia (4.5%), pneumonia (2.3%), anemia (1.9%), pancytopenia (1.5%), pneumonitis (1.1%), and COPD (1.1%). Fatal adverse reactions occurred in 4.9% of patients receiving IMFINZI plus chemotherapy

The safety and effectiveness of IMFINZI have not been established in pediatric patients.

IMFINZI is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma who:

  • Have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy.
  • Have disease progression within 12 months of neoadjuvant or adjuvant treatment with platinum-containing chemotherapy.

This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on tumor response rate and duration of response. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trials.

IMFINZI is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with unresectable Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose disease has not progressed following concurrent platinum-based chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

IMFINZI, in combination with etoposide and either carboplatin or cisplatin, is indicated for the first-line treatment of adult patients with extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC).

Please see complete Prescribing Information, including Patient Information.

Liver cancer and BTC
Liver cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in the US8, with approximately 20% of patients alive five years after diagnoses.9 BTC is a type of cancer that impacts the bile ducts, a network of tubes, called ducts, that connects the liver, gallbladder, and small intestine.10 BTC is the second most frequent malignancy confined to the liver, after hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).2 Most new cases of BTC are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when treatment options are limited and the prognosis for patients is poor.1,2 Chronic liver damage is associated with chronic inflammation that, over time, results in immunosuppression and can lead to the development of cancer such as HCC and BTC.2,11-12 The unique immune environment of liver cancer provides clear rationale for researching medicines that harness the power of the immune system to treat it.13

TOPAZ-1 is a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled, multicenter, global Phase III trial of IMFINZI in combination with chemotherapy (gemcitabine plus cisplatin) versus placebo in combination with chemotherapy as a 1st-line treatment for patients with advanced BTC.6 The trial is being conducted in more than 100 centers across 17 countries including in the US, Europe, South America and Asia. The primary endpoint is overall survival and key secondary endpoints include progression-free survival and objective response rate.6

About IMFINZI® (durvalumab)
IMFINZI is a human monoclonal antibody that binds to PD-L1 and blocks the interaction of PD-L1 with PD-1 and CD80, countering the tumor’s immune-evading tactics and releasing the inhibition of immune responses.14

IMFINZI is approved in the curative-intent setting of unresectable, Stage III non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after chemoradiation therapy in the US, Japan, China, across the EU and in many other countries, based on the PACIFIC Phase III trial. IMFINZI is also approved for previously treated patients with advanced bladder cancer in the US and several other countries. Additionally, it is approved in the US, the EU, Japan and other countries for extensive-stage small cell lung cancer (ES-SCLC).

As part of a broad development program, IMFINZI is also being tested as a monotherapy and in combinations including with tremelimumab, an anti-CTLA4 monoclonal antibody and potential new medicine, as a treatment for patients with NSCLC, SCLC, bladder cancer, head and neck cancer, liver cancer, biliary tract cancer, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer and other solid tumors.7

About AstraZeneca Support Programs
AstraZeneca strives to ensure that appropriate patients and their oncologists have access to IMFINZI and relevant support resources. These include educational resources, an Oncology Nurse Educator program and affordability and reimbursement programs, such as Access 360™.

Additionally, AstraZeneca has launched Lighthouse, a program that provides support to patients during any immune-mediated adverse events they may encounter during treatment, through medically trained Lighthouse Advocates. The program aims to make patients’ treatment experience as comfortable as possible. Find out more about Lighthouse at or call 1-855-LHOUSE1(1-855-546-8731).

AstraZeneca in GI cancers
AstraZeneca has a broad development program for the treatment of GI cancers across several medicines spanning a variety of tumor types and stages of disease.7 In 2018, GI cancers collectively represented nearly five million new cancer cases leading to more than 3.5 million deaths15. Within this program, AstraZeneca is committed to improving outcomes in gastric, liver, esophageal, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers.

IMFINZI is being assessed in Phase III trials across a number of GI cancers. In hepatocellular carcinoma, Phase 3 trials HIMALAYA and EMERALD-2 test IMFINZI either as monotherapy or in combination with other agents. In addition, EMERALD-1 tests IMFINZI in combination with other interventional modalities. IMFINZI is also being assessed as part of combination therapies for biliary tract cancer (TOPAZ-1), esophageal cancer (KUNLUN) and gastric cancer (MATTERHORN).7 AstraZeneca aims to understand the potential of trastuzumab deruxtecan, a HER2-directed antibody drug conjugate, in the two most common GI cancers, colorectal and gastric cancers. Trastuzumab deruxtecan is jointly developed and commercialized by AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo. Olaparib is a first-in-class PARP inhibitor with a broad and advanced clinical trial program across multiple GI tumor types including pancreatic and colorectal cancers. Olaparib is developed and commercialized in collaboration with MSD (Merck & Co., Inc. inside the US and Canada).

About AstraZeneca’s approach to IO
IO is a therapeutic approach designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack tumors. AstraZeneca’s IO portfolio is anchored by immunotherapies that have been designed to overcome anti-tumor immune suppression. AstraZeneca is invested in using IO approaches that deliver long-term survival for new groups of patients across tumor types.

AstraZeneca is pursuing a comprehensive clinical-trial program that includes IMFINZI as a monotherapy and in combination with tremelimumab in multiple tumor types, stages of disease, and lines of therapy, and where relevant using the PD-L1 biomarker as a decision-making tool to define the best potential treatment path for a patient. In addition, the ability to combine the IO portfolio with radiation, chemotherapy, small targeted molecules from across AstraZeneca’s Oncology pipeline, and from research partners, may provide new treatment options across a broad range of tumors.

About AstraZeneca in oncology
AstraZeneca has a deep-rooted heritage in oncology and offers a quickly growing portfolio of new medicines that has the potential to transform patients' lives and the Company's future. With seven new medicines launched between 2014 and 2020, and a broad pipeline of small molecules and biologics in development, AstraZeneca is committed to advance oncology as a key growth driver for AstraZeneca focused on lung, ovarian, breast and blood cancers.

By harnessing the power of six scientific platforms – Immuno-Oncology, Tumor Drivers and Resistance, DNA Damage Response, Antibody Drug Conjugates, Epigenetics, and Cell Therapies – and by championing the development of personalized combinations, AstraZeneca has the vision to redefine cancer treatment and one day eliminate cancer as a cause of death.

About AstraZeneca
AstraZeneca (LSE/STO/Nasdaq: AZN) is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines, primarily for the treatment of diseases in three therapy areas - Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism, and Respiratory & Immunology. Based in Cambridge, UK, AstraZeneca operates in over 100 countries and its innovative medicines are used by millions of patients worldwide. Please visit and follow the Company on Twitter @AstraZeneca.



1.     Ghidini M et al. Biliary tract cancer: current challenges and future prospects. Cancer Manag Res. 2018;11:379-388. 

2.     Hilmi, M et al. Immune Therapy for Liver Cancers. Cancers (Basel) 2020 Jan;12(1):77

3.     Office of the Federal Register. Subpart C—Designation of an Orphan Drug. December 9, 2020.

4.     GBD 2017 Disease and Injury Incidence and Prevalence Collaborators. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet. 2018;392(10159):1789-1858.

5.     Turkes F, Carmichael J, Cunningham D, Starling N. Contemporary Tailored Oncology Treatment of Biliary Tract Cancers. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2019;2019:7698786.

6.     ClinicalTrials.Gov. NCT03875235. Available at Accessed December 2020.

7.     AstraZeneca. Clinical Trial Appendix: Year-to-Date and Q3 2020 Results Update. Available at: Accessed December 2020.

8.     National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts: Common Cancer Sites. Available at: Accessed December 2020

9.     National Cancer Institute. Cancer Stat Facts: Liver and Intrahepatic Bile Duct Cancer. Available at: Accessed December 2020.

10.  National Cancer Institute. Bile Duct Cancer (Cholangiocarcinoma) Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version. Available at: Accessed December 2020.

11.  Del Campo JA., et al. Role of inflammatory response in liver diseases: Therapeutic strategies. World journal of hepatology. 2018;10(1),1–7. doi:10.4254/wjh.v10.i1.1.

12.  Makarova-Rusher OV, et al. The yin and yang of evasion and immune activation in HCC. J Hepatol. 2015; 62(6):1420-1429.

13.  Han Y, et al. Human CD141CTLA-41Regulatory Dendritic Cells Suppress T-Cell Response by Cytotoxic T-LymphocyteAntigen-4-Dependent IL-10 and Indoleamine-2,3-Dioxygenase Production in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Hepatology. 2014 Feb;59(2):567-79.

14.  AstraZeneca. IMFINZI Prescribing Information. Available at: Accessed December 2020.

15.  Bray F, et al. Global cancer statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J. Clin. 2018;68(6):394-424.


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