Boehringer Ingelheim has initiated a Phase III trial of afatinib for the treatment of advanced metastatic breast cancer.

Afatinib is an oral compound that works by irreversibly inhibiting the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/HER1) and the human epidermal receptor (HER2).

The global, randomised and open-label study will enrol patients with HER2-positive breast cancer who have received prior treatment with trastuzumab.

The study will evaluate if afatinib can extend the progression-free survival of patients compared with trastuzumab, when both are added to standard chemotherapy treatment vinorelbine.

The study will also evaluate the tolerability and safety of afatinib and the overall survival.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women globally. HER2-positive breast cancer is an aggressive form associated with greater risk of cancer progression and death.