Roche's Avastin steps on FDA fast track for new cervical cancer use

When it comes to expanding Avastin into new cancer territories, Roche ($RHHBY) has a win-some, lose-some record. Lung cancer, check. Kidney cancer, check. But in breast cancer and brain cancer, its results have been mixed.

Now, Roche is closer to adding cervical cancer to its arsenal of indications in the U.S. The FDA put Avastin on its priority review track, which means Roche is scheduled to get an answer quickly--October 24, to be exact. The approval would cover women whose cancer has spread or recurred.

Analysts haven't yet said how the fast-track cervical cancer nod might pump up Avastin sales. But some recent approvals--expanded use in colorectal cancer in the U.S., and ovarian cancer approval in Europe--helped boost Avastin to $6.75 billion last year, a 13% increase. The drug was 2013's second-best-selling oncology treatment, and among the industry's 10 best-selling products for the year, according to FiercePharma research.

Added to an in-the-works ovarian cancer approval in the U.S. and a new brain-cancer approval in Japan, a cervical cancer nod could help Avastin further rise in 2014. More than 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer are expected to crop up in the U.S. this year, and 4,000 women die from the disease annually, Roche says.

"This regulatory application for Avastin is important because chemotherapy is the only approved treatment for women with metastatic, recurrent or persistent cervical cancer," CMO Sandra Horning said in a statement. "Treatment with Avastin plus chemotherapy may help women with these conditions live longer than chemotherapy alone, and we look forward to working with the FDA on potentially making this medicine available to patients."

- read the release from Genentech

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