Roche strikes gold as FDA approves Tecentriq as lung cancer treatment

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Lungs, Lung Cancer, Cancer

Roche’s bladder cancer drug Tecentriq (atezolizumab) has received US Food and Drug Administration’s stamp of approval for treatment of lung cancer for people with a specific type of metastatic lung cancer thereby paving way for the company to grab a share of the market dominated by Merck & Co.’s Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo.

FDA approved Roche’s Tecentriq (atezolizumab) for the treatment of people with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) who have disease progression during or following platinum-containing chemotherapy, and have progressed on an appropriate FDA-approved targeted therapy if their tumour has EGFR or ALK gene abnormalities.

Latest results of study carried out by Roche have shown that people who received Tecentriq lived 4.2 months longer on an average than those treated with docetaxel chemotherapy. The study enrolled people regardless of their PD-L1 status and included both squamous and non-squamous disease types.

“Tecentriq is the first and only approved cancer immunotherapy designed to target the PD-L1 protein, which may play an important role in the way the medicine works,” Sandra Horning, Roche CMO and head of product development, said in a statement.

With Roche releasing results from its OAK trial last month, pharma analysts say that immuno-oncology will now be at least be a three company affair. Roche already has a huge commercial presence because of its existing drugs and this will enable the company to easily make inroads into the markets already captured by Merck & Co. and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

An important thing to note here is unlike BMS’ Opdivo, to receive Roche’s Tecentriq (atezolizumab) patients do not require screening of the PD-L1 biomarker before treatment. Further, Keytruda patients have to hit a particular threshold for PD-L1 to qualify and that’s where Roche will be able to strike gold as it applies to all patients whose disease has progressed after platinum chemotherapy or after a targeted treatment for those whose tumors test positive for EGFR or ALK abnormalities.

Analysts say that this non requirement of screening will give Roche’s Tecentriq an edge over other treatment options and help offset its third-to-market status. Tecentriq’s list price is $12,500, on par with its rivals.

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