Avastin and Tarceva Late Stage Study Shows Combined Use Does Not Prolong Life Expectancy of Advanced Stage Lung Cancer Victims
December 2, 2008: Genentech Inc. and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. have disclosed that a late-stage trial showed that adding the cancer drug Avastin to the cancer drug Tarceva did not prolong the lives of patients with advanced lung cancer. Lung cancer can be caused from, among other things, exposure to asbestos.
Hal Barron, Genetech’s medical officer said in a prepared statement, “We are disappointed this study didn’t show an improvement in survival for patients with advanced lung cancer who have a poor prognosis and a disease that is extremely difficult to treat.”
The company further disclosed, however, that a second goal of the study was to determine whether the combination treatment kept the cancer from progressing for a longer period than Tarceva treatment by itself. On a positive note, the combined use of Tarceva and Avastin was more effective than Tarceva treatment alone at stopping the spread of lung cancer. This finding was at least somewhat positive for asbestos lung cancer victims. While the study focused on lung cancer victims generally and not asbestos lung cancer victims specifically, there is no reason to differentiate the two necessarily from a clinical perspective.
According to Roche, which sells both cancer drugs in Europe, “Both Avastin and Tarceva are already available for the treatment of patients with advanced NSCLC [lung cancer] in the US and Europe. Avastin used first-line in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy is proven to deliver the longest survival times for previously untreated patients while Tarceva in second-line was the first targeted therapy to significantly improve survival in previously treated patients.”
The lung cancer study’s findings were first announced in October 2008 and more specific findings were announced at the 2008 Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology in Chicago, III., which was held from November 13-15, 2008.
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