Avastin performs in ovarian cancer trial

After a setback earlier this week, Avastin's prospects are looking up again. A new study shows that the Roche drug helps women with ovarian cancer live longer without their disease worsening. If the data are enough to win approval for marketing Avastin as an ovarian cancer treatment, the drug could add almost $1 billion to its already-blockbuster sales, analysts say.

A trial in stomach cancer patients didn't pan out for the treatment, which some have called "a pipeline in one drug." However, with this promising ovarian cancer data, Avastin could well win that new indication. "We are greatly encouraged by these results," Pascal Soriot, COO of Roche's pharma division, says in a statement. "Women with this disease still have a poor outlook and we are committed to working with the relevant health authorities to make Avastin available."

Meanwhile, Roche is awaiting new data on Avastin in prostate cancer and early-stage colorectal cancer. "2010 is going to see a slew more Avastin data," Bernstein analyst Jack Scannell tells the Wall Street Journal. If other cancers in Avastin's sights prove vulnerable to the drug, it could reach peak sales of more than $8 billion, analysts say. That's up from $5.75 billion in 2009. Pipeline in a drug, indeed.

- see Roche's release
- read the WSJ piece