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Herceptin facing challenge

5th September 2012

Drug manufacturer Roche Holding AG has given an update on its latest developments.

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In a statement ahead of a presentation to investors in London, the Swiss company announced that it expects results from 19 late-stage clinical trials over the next 18 months, providing a stream of products to offset a potential near-term threat to breast cancer drug Herceptin, which is its third biggest seller.

The company, which is the world’s bigger maker of cancer medicines, cited antibody drugs carrying chemotherapy and combination treatments among its most promising approaches.

Chief Executive Severin Schwan said the group would remain market leader in the field and added: “More than 60% of our pharmaceutical pipeline projects are coupled with the development of companion diagnostics in order to make treatments more effective.”

Results on two studies examining how long patients should use Herceptin are now expected to be presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology meeting in Vienna at the end of September, which could either increase or cut sales of the drug, which was first approved in 1998 for breast cancer patients who have tumours that generate HER-2 protein.

For Roche, Herceptin is one of its most profitable products and sales are still growing, up 11% to 2.95 billion Swiss francs in the first half of 2012.

And in general, market analysts suggest that Roche has fared better than its main competitors, which have been affected by patent expirations.

This, in many ways, can be attributed to its best-selling cancer medicines because most do not face imminent generic competition.

 

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