Roche drug cocktail doubles chance of halting lung cancer

The Roche's immunotherapy Tecentriq to older drugs almost doubled the percentage of lung cancer patients who survived a year without their disease further advancing which is actually an outcome some experts on Thursday labeled as unprecedented. Its shares retreated, however, as the analysts said that the uncertainty still hangs over whether the result is sufficient to give the Swiss drug maker a jump on rivals Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb, whose immunotherapy sales dwarf the sales of the Roche's own. About thirty seven percent of patients in Roche's were closely watched in a clinical trial who got Tecentriq, Avastin and chemotherapy have reached one year without their cancer advancing. This is per the data released at the European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Geneva.

For the patients who are getting just Avastin and chemotherapy in the Impower 150 study, that fell to about 18 percent. Roche is counting on Tecentriq to help in the replacement of the revenue from its 20 billion dollars trio of Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan whose patents have expired or will expire shortly, exposing them to cheaper competition. The Chief Executive of Roche, Severin Schwan hopes that Roche can just leap ahead of both its competitors Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, both of which are still awaiting key lung cancer combination trial results of their own.

Doctor Solange Peters who is the head of Medical Oncology at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland said about the latest results that this, in particular, looks very promising. He said that doubling the survival where the disease has not progressed at the end of one year is something that we have not seen with any targeted therapy in unselected patients to this date. Tecentriq which is already approved for the treatment of bladder cancer and is second in line for lung cancer treatment is seen posting annual sales of about 4.6 billion dollars by the year 2023. This is per the average forecast of the analysts polled by Reuters.

It costs about 150,000 dollars per patient in a year. Roche, which said that it would be submitting the results of Thursday to the regulatory authorities, had said in the month of November that the Impower 150 trial had broadly succeeded in the treatment of the first in line lung cancer patients, helping spur a one day,12 billion dollars rally in the shares of the drug maker based in Basel.

March 22, 2018 - 15:24
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