Drugmaker Roche Holding AG said on Thursday its Xeloda oral chemotherapy was as effective as standard drugs in treating advanced stomach cancer, supporting analysts’ views of higher sales potential.
Roche said data from a phase III study due to be presented at an American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting (ASCO) showed that Xeloda, when added to another chemotherapy called cisplatin, was at least as effective as the intravenous chemotherapy drug, 5-fluorouracil.
Gastric cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide, Roche said in a statement.
The disease occurs more often in men than women, and tends to be more frequent in people aged over 55.
Roche participation certificates, its most widely traded form of equity, were down 0.5 percent at 191.90 Swiss francs. However, analysts said the new data could lead to another boost for sales of the drug.
“Xeloda already generated 2005 turnover of 796 million francs and we assume that growth will be strong in coming years and that it will reach a turnover of 2.4 billion francs by 2010,” Vontobel analyst Guisep Demont wrote in a note.
Roche noted that the oral drug would significantly reduce the amount of time patients needed to be treated, a point which analysts said could prompt healthcare providers to choose it over the cheaper but more time-consuming treatment with traditional forms of chemotherapy which are now off patent.
“Compared to the current standard, where patients spend five days every three weeks in hospital receiving treatment, Xeloda has the additional benefit of reducing that amount of time to only one day, which helps patients to live as normal life as possible,” Ed Holdener, Head of Global Development at Roche, was quoted as saying.
Roche said it plans to file for regulatory approval in treating advanced gastric cancer worldwide.
The drug is already licensed in more than 90 countries. It is approved in most countries as an oral chemotherapy to treat colorectal cancer that has spread, and in some countries to treat post-surgery colon cancer. It is also licensed in various combinations for forms of breast cancer.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD