Roche drug cocktail doubles chance of holding lung cancer at bay

  • Thursday 07, December 2017 in 9:54 PM
Sharjah 24-Reuters: Adding Roche’s immunotherapy Tecentriq to older drugs doubled the percentage of lung cancer patients who survived a year without their disease advancing, an outcome some experts on Thursday labeled unprecedented.
Its shares retreated, however, as analysts said uncertainty lingers over whether the result is sufficient to give the Swiss drugmaker a jump on rivals Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb whose immunotherapy sales dwarf Roche’s own.

Thirty-seven percent of patients in Roche’s closely watched clinical trial who got Tecentriq, Avastin and chemotherapy reached the one-year mark without their cancer progressing (PFS), according to data released at the European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Geneva.

For patients getting just Avastin and chemotherapy in the Impower 150 study, that fell to 18 percent.

Roche is counting on Tecentriq to help replace revenue from its $20 billion-per-year trio of Avastin, Herceptin and Rituxan whose patents have expired or will shortly, exposing them to cheaper competition.

Chief Executive Severin Schwan hopes Roche can leap-frog ahead of Merck and Bristol-Myers Squibb, both of which are still awaiting key lung cancer combination trial results of their own.

“This is very, very promising,” Dr. Solange Peters, the head of Medical Oncology at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois in Lausanne, Switzerland, said of the latest results.