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Eisai restates Halaven’s challenge to Roche’s Xeloda

Published on 30/09/13 at 04:25pm
ECC image
European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam

Eisai has updated research on its breast cancer drug Halaven in a renewed bid to establish the treatment as a viable alternative to Roche’s Xeloda.

Halaven (eribulin) is used to treat metastatic breast cancer, indicated for patients who have undergone at least two courses of chemotherapy. 

In 2006 its developers launched a comparative investigation called Study 301, in which researchers identified no significant difference in overall and progression-free survival between it and Xeloda (capecitabine).

However, at this year’s European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam, Study 301 researcher Chris Twelves told Pharmafocus that the data “suggest that it’s at least as good, if not better than capecitabine”. 

Twelves said that Halaven’s modest improvement in overall survival, paired with better responses to quality of life questions, make the pill worthy of further attention.

Drawing a sporting parallel, he said: “It’s a bit like the Premier League - there are lots of teams, in the same way that there are a lot of drugs that we might use to treat metastatic breast cancer.

“But the ones that are in the European places - the top four - are the anthracyclines, the taxanes, capecitabine and eribulin.”

Other Halaven-related research presented at this year’s congress included a replication of positive Phase III trial results, and a study which challenged progression-free survival as a suitable measure of treatment efficacy.

Eisai is eager to prove the worth of Halaven as it continues to expand its interest in oncology. In recent years, the Tokyo-headquartered company has made a number of cancer-related acquisitions, including the purchase of monoclonal antibody-developer Morphotek in a deal worth $325 million in 2007.

Halaven is approved for use in Europe and the US but, unlike Xeloda, does not have the backing of cost effectiveness watchdog NICE in the UK.

According to Twelves, research into the treatment’s existing data will continue “to make sure that we learn as much as we can”. He also confirmed that trials of the drug in earlier-stage breast cancer are underway and that its effectiveness in other types of tumour is being considered.

Eisai covered Pharmafocus’ travel and accommodation costs for the European Cancer Congress 2013.

Hugh McCafferty

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