Final overall survival analysis from the phase III J-ALEX study of alectinib versus crizotinib in ALK inhibitor-naïve Japanese patients with ALK-positive non-small-cell lung cancer

ESMO Open. 2022 Aug;7(4):100527. doi: 10.1016/j.esmoop.2022.100527. Epub 2022 Jul 14.


Background: Mature progression-free survival (PFS) data from the phase III J-ALEX study showed superiority for alectinib versus crizotinib [hazard ratio (HR) 0.37, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.26-0.52; median PFS 34.1 versus 10.2 months, respectively] in advanced ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase)-positive non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Overall survival (OS) data were immature (HR 0.80, 99.8799% CI 0.35-1.82) at the time of data cut-off (30 June 2018). We report final OS data after ≥5 years of follow-up.

Patients and methods: ALK inhibitor naive Japanese patients who were chemotherapy naive or had received one prior chemotherapy regimen were enrolled. Patients were randomized to receive alectinib 300 mg (n = 103) or crizotinib 250 mg (n = 104) twice daily until progressive disease, unacceptable toxicity, death, or withdrawal. The primary endpoint was independent review facility-assessed PFS, with OS (not fully powered) as a secondary endpoint.

Results: Median duration of OS follow-up was 68.6 months with alectinib and 68.0 months with crizotinib. Treatment with alectinib did not prolong OS relative to crizotinib (HR 1.03, 95.0405% CI 0.67-1.58; P = 0.9105). Five-year OS rates were 60.9% (95% CI 51.4-70.3) with alectinib and 64.1% (95% CI 54.9-73.4) with crizotinib. In total, 91.3% (n = 95/104) of crizotinib-treated patients and 46.6% (n = 48/103) of alectinib-treated patients received at least one subsequent anticancer therapy. After study drug discontinuation, 78.8% of patients in the crizotinib arm switched to alectinib, while 10.7% of patients in the alectinib arm switched to crizotinib as a first subsequent anticancer therapy. Patients randomized to crizotinib tended to switch treatment earlier than those randomized to alectinib.

Conclusion: Final OS analysis from J-ALEX did not show superiority of alectinib to crizotinib; this result was most likely confounded by treatment crossover. Alectinib remains a standard of care for the treatment of patients with advanced ALK-positive NSCLC.

Keywords: ALK-positive NSCLC; J-ALEX; alectinib; crizotinib; overall survival.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carbazoles
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung*
  • Crizotinib
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Lung Neoplasms*
  • Piperidines
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Survival Analysis


  • Carbazoles
  • Piperidines
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Crizotinib
  • alectinib