Study boosts Roche bid for first-line Tarceva use

Roche has some new data to bolster broader use of its cancer treatment Tarceva. In a new study--stopped early because of the results--the drug kept cancer from progressing in patients newly diagnosed with EGFR-positive, non-small cell lung cancer. The company now plans to ask FDA to approve Tarceva as a first-line treatment in those patients.

"The Eurtac study demonstrates that testing for EGFR activating mutations can identify...candidates to receive Tarceva as their initial treatment for advanced lung cancer," Hal Barron, chief medical officer at Roche, said in a statement.

Last year, Roche applied for European approval for that new use, which potentially could reach one in 10 Western lung cancer patients and one in three Asian patients, Reuters reports. The EGFR mutation is more common among Asian patients; in fact, this study is the first test of Tarceva in Western patients with this type of lung cancer.

What would this new use mean for Roche? Well, Kepler Capital Markets analyst Martin Voegtli told Reuters that it could drive sales growth to peak sales of 1.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.8 billion) by 2015.

- get the release from Roche
- check out the Bloomberg story
- see the Reuters story