Skip to NavigationSkip to content

Roche's targeted cancer drug fails

Published on 28/10/03 at 03:50pm

A new type of cancer drug developed by Roche, Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals has failed to prove its efficacy in treating lung cancer.

Two phase III clinical trials involving a total of 2,250 patients have shown Tarceva failed to improve the overall survival rates of lung cancer patients when given in combination with chemotherapy.

The drug is one of a new class of cancer drugs that target genetic mutations which allow cancer cells to multiply, and is designed to bypass many of the unpleasant side effects associated with traditional chemotherapy.

Other drugs that work on the same principle of blocking the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) include Astra-Zeneca's Iressa and ImClone's Erbitux.

Last year Iressa failed a similar trial for lung cancer in combination with chemotherapy and Tarceva was not expected to perform any better.

Susan Hellmann, Genentech's Executive VP, Development and Product Operations, and Chief Medical Officer said: "We are disappointed, but not completely surprised, based on previously announced failures of EGFR inhibitors in this setting, that Tarceva in combination with chemotherapy did not improve overall survival as a first-line therapy in these studies.

"We believe that further work is needed to provide more insight into the role of epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors in this setting, either as a single agent or in combination with other targeted agents or chemotherapy."

The company will now try to identify potential subsets of patients with non-small cell lung cancer who would most benefit from combining the drug  with chemotherapy.Tarceva was originally developed by OSI before being licensed to Roche and drug development partner, Californian bio-tech company Genentech.

Clinical trials of Tarceva continue in a number of other indications, including brain cancer, for which Genentech has been granted orphan drug status by the FDA, and as a monotherapy treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Mission Statement is a leading portal for the pharmaceutical industry, providing industry professionals with pharma news, pharma events, pharma service company listings and pharma jobs,
Site content is produced by our editorial team exclusively for and our industry newspaper Pharmafocus. Service company profiles and listings are taken from our pharmaceutical industry directory, Pharmafile, and presented in a unique Find and Compare format to ensure the most relevant matches