UPDATED: ASCO: Bayer's Nexavar gets boost, while Roche's Avastin reports mixed

This year's American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conference provided plenty of headlines over the weekend, and the Fierce team was in Chicago to capture the announcements, presentations and research results. Here's a roundup of news from the past few days for approved drugs, comprising highlights from FierceBiotech's weekend coverage as well as recent releases.

  • For Roche ($RHHBY), combining blockbuster Avastin with other cancer treatments has met with mixed results. At ASCO, investigators highlighted a distinct advantage in adding the therapy to chemo for cervical cancer, but they found no survival advantage when adding it to chemo for glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. For women with metastatic or relapsed cervical cancer, adding Avastin took the overall median survival rate to 17 months from 13.3 in the chemo-only group. But with glioblastoma, adding the drug decreased the rate of overall survival and increased side effects for patients. Story | Cervical cancer release | Glioblastoma release

  • Sales of Bayer's Nexavar may get a boost from recent results. Sunday, investigators told ASCO-goers that the therapy nearly doubled progression-free survival of treatment-resistant thyroid cancer patients. The drug took the survival median to 10.8 months from 5.8. Bayer and Onyx ($ONXX) say they are now looking to file for an approval in the U.S. and Europe, which analysts project could add about $200 million a year in sales. That should boost total sales to about $900 million this year. Story | Release

  • Two may be better than one when it comes to using immunotherapies to treat melanoma. Researchers found that combining Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Yervoy with a white blood cell booster from Sanofi ($SNY) kept more than two-thirds of melanoma patients alive after a year of treatment, compared with just half of those who received Yervoy on its own. Researchers were looking to improve Yervoy's melanoma results, for which it received approval in 2011. Bristol saw huge sales growth in the first quarter for Yervoy, up almost 50% to $229 million.  Story

  • Tykerb will not be a treatment for patients with HER2-positive advanced gastric cancer anytime soon, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) announced today. A study combining the drug with chemotherapy did not meet its primary endpoint of improved overall survival compared with chemotherapy alone. Release

  • According to Reuters, a British study says the generic drug tamoxifen is more effective at preventing a recurrence of breast cancer if women previously treated for the disease take it for 10 years instead of the recommended 5. The latest findings, presented at ASCO this weekend, say that women who continued taking tamoxifen had a 25% lower recurrence rate and a 23% lower breast cancer mortality rate than those who stopped after 5. While side effects increased with longer use, researchers concluded that those risks were outweighed by the benefits, estimating that 30 breast cancer deaths would be prevented for every endometrial cancer death caused by the drug. Reuters' story

Correction: The ASCO annual meeting in Chicago ends on June 4, according to the group's website, and was not over as of this morning, as this report initially indicated. We apologize for any confusion.

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