Herceptin aces stomach-cancer trial

On the "good news" side of Roche's ledger today, the company announced results of a big study that shows Herceptin significantly prolongs the life of stomach cancer patients when added to standard chemotherapy. It's the second chunk of positive data for Herceptin in 10 days; last week, a study showed the drug benefits HER2-positive breast cancer patients for several years after treatment is concluded.

In the international stomach-cancer trial, known as ToGA, Herceptin "significantly" prolonged the lives of patients with HER2-positive, advanced stomach cancer. "This is definitely good news," Helvea analyst Karl-Heinz Koch told Dow Jones. And according to Roche's pharma CEO Bill Burns, "The ToGA study shows for the first time that Herceptin extends the lives of patients in a cancer other than breast cancer."

About 900,000 new cases of stomach cancer are diagnosed each year, with 22 percent of stomach tumors deemed HER2-positive.

Developed by Genentech--which, as you know, just agreed to a merger with Roche--Herceptin is marketed in Japan by Chugai Pharmaceuticals, internationally by Roche, and in the U.S. by Genentech. 

- check out the release from Roche
- see the Dow Jones article