Roche says Avastin ovary cancer data "substantial"

* Roche to present strong data on Avastin in ovarian cancer

* Reiterates ovarian indication could add 1 bln Sfr to sales

* Will present data at this year’s ASCO in June

* Shares 1.6 percent

By Katie Reid

ZURICH, May 21 (BestGrowthStock) – Swiss drugmaker Roche (ROG.VX: )
said it would report strong results with its top-selling cancer
drug Avastin in ovarian cancer and reiterated the new use could
add another 1 billion Swiss francs ($865 million) to sales.

“In ovarian cancer, we are presenting substantial results,”
Dr. Mondher Mahjoubi, head of global product strategy oncology
and director of medical affairs at Roche, said on a conference
call on Friday.

Roche will present detailed data on Avastin in the treatment
of ovarian cancer at this year’s American Society of Clinical
Oncology (ASCO) in June.

The Swiss company said in February that a late-stage trial
showed it helped women with advanced ovarian cancer live longer
without their disease getting worse. [ID:LDE61O09J]

But investors are waiting keenly for the detailed data to
work out just how useful the treatment really is.

Avastin, which starves tumours of blood supply, is already a
key weapon in the fight against colon, lung, breast and other
cancers, but it has stumbled at key hurdles this year, failing
in late-stage stomach and prostate cancer studies.
[ID:nLDE61M05O] [ID:nLDE62B02V]

The world’s largest maker of cancer drugs is looking to
expand the reach of Avastin, which had sales of 6.2 billion
francs in 2009 and could become the world’s top selling drug by
2014 with sales of some $9 billion a year. [ID:nLDE63B1XF]

“This (data) will be a substantial contribution to ASCO and
this is reflected by the fact that it will be presented at the
plenary session,” Pascal Soriot, COO of Roche’s Pharmaceuticals
division, said on the conference call.

Around 230,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each
year across the world and nearly 70 percent of women with
advanced disease die within five years, Roche said.

At 1000 GMT, Roche stock was trading 1.6 percent lower,
while the European pharmaceuticals sector (.SXDP: ) was down 2.1

“Importantly, we see no negative competing data flow coming
into the ASCO congress this year, allowing investors to focus
solely on Roche’s own opportunities rather than potential
threats to its oncology portfolio,” analysts at Jefferies said
in a note.

Roche further underscored the promise of its pipeline in
oncology with data that showed continued use of Rituxan, or
MabThera, cut by 50 percent the risk that follicular lymphoma
patients would have their cancer return. [ID:N20220760]

Deutsche Bank analysts said investors could also take
comfort from a scientific abstract outlining results of a pooled
analysis of survival data for Avastin in first-line metastatic
breast cancer.

Although this did not show an overall survival benefit,
there was an increase in progression free survival and,
importantly, Avastin showed no harm in this enlarged sample.

Deutsche said this could provide relief to sentiment for
investors worried that Avastin’s breast cancer indication might
be rescinded by U.S. regulators.

Stock Investing

(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler in London; Editing by
Jon Loades-Carter)
($1=1.156 Swiss Franc)

Roche says Avastin ovary cancer data “substantial”