UPDATE 1-Europe backs broader use of Roche’s MabThera

* MabThera can be used to treat follicular lymphoma

* Drug gets EU backing as first line maintenance treatment

* Follicular lymphoma is a common type of blood cancer

(Adds details, background)

ZURICH, Oct 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Roche Holding AG’s (ROG.VX: )
cancer drug MabThera can now be used as a first line maintenance
treatment for follicular lymphoma, a common form of blood
cancer, broadening the drug’s use and giving Roche a boost.

The decision was largely expected after the European
Medicines Agency in September recommended the blockbuster for
the treatment of patients who responded to induction therapy.

The approval of MabThera, known in the United States, Japan
and Canada as Rituxan, doubled the likelihood of patients living
longer without their disease worsening, the Swiss drugmaker said
in a statement on Thursday.

Maintenance treatment reduces the risk of relapse and the
use of chemotherapy, Roche said.

Sales of MabThera, which is already marketed to treat
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic
lymphocytic leukaemia, last year totalled 6.1 billion Swiss
francs ($6.19 billion).

Follicular lymphoma is a common type of non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma. Around 286,000 people are diagnosed with NHL each year
and follicular lymphoma, which is incurable, accounts for around
one in four of these cases.

Roche has this year had to battle with a number of setbacks
in its pipeline development, causing it to fall out of favour
with investors, but this news and recent U.S. backing for
Herceptin in combination with chemotherapy in stomach cancer
gives the group a little lift. [ID:nN20229840]
(Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)
($1=.9859 Swiss Franc)

UPDATE 1-Europe backs broader use of Roche’s MabThera