Assessing Patient Risk, Benefit, and Outcomes in Drug Development: A Decade of Lenvatinib Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review

Patrick Crotty, Karim Kari, Griffin K. Hughes, Chase Ladd, Ryan McIntire, Brooke Gardner, Andriana M. Peña, Sydney Ferrell, Jordan Tuia, Jacob Cohn, Alyson Haslam, Vinay Prasad, Matt Vassar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Importance: Chemotherapy agents are typically initially tested in their most promising indications; however, following initial US FDA approval, new clinical trials are often initiated in less promising indications where patients experience a worse burden-benefit ratio. The current literature on the burden-benefit profile of lenvatinib in non-FDA-approved indications is lacking. Objective: This study aimed to evaluate published clinical trials of lenvatinib in order to determine the burden-benefit profile for patients over time. Evidence Review: On 25 May 2023, we searched the Pubmed/MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, and databases for clinical trials of lenvatinib used to treat solid cancers. Eligible articles were clinical trials, containing adult participants, published in English, and involving solid tumors. Screening and data collection took place in a masked, duplicate fashion. For each eligible study, we collected adverse event data, trial characteristics, progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and objective response rate (ORR). Trials were classified as positive when meeting their primary endpoint and safety, negative (not meeting either criteria), or indeterminate (lacking prespecified primary endpoint). Findings: Expansion of clinical trial testing beyond lenvatinib’s initial FDA indication demonstrated a consistent rise in cumulative adverse events, along with a decline in drug efficacy. Lenvatinib was tested in 16 cancer indications, receiving FDA approval in 4. A total of 5390 Grade 3–5 adverse events were experienced across 6225 clinical trial participants. Expanded indication testing further demonstrated widely variable ORR (11–69%), OS (6.2–32 months), and PFS (3.6–15.7 months) across all indications. After initial FDA approval, clinical trial results in expanded indications were less likely to meet their primary endpoints, particularly among non-randomized clinical trials. Conclusion and relevance: Our paper evaluated the effectiveness of lenvatinib for its FDA-approved indications; however, expansion of clinical trials into novel indications was characterized by diminished efficacy, while patients experienced a high burden of adverse events consistent with lenvatinib’s established safety profile. Furthermore, clinical trials testing in novel indications was marked by repeated phase I and II clinical trials along with a failure to progress to phase III clinical trials. Future clinical trials using lenvatinib as an intervention should carefully evaluate the potential benefits and burden patients may experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-173
Number of pages13
JournalTargeted Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024


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