By Hans Schoemaker
(ROG.VX) said Wednesday that new data shows its breast cancer drug Herceptin also shows benefits when used to treat aggressive stomach cancer. The results, from ToGA, a large international Phase III trial, show that Herceptin significantly prolongs the lives of patients with HER2-positive advanced stomach cancer.
“This is definitely good news,” said Karl-Heinz Koch, an analyst at Helvea, who rates the stock at buy.
“Herceptin was a breakthrough treatment for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer and has become the foundation of care across all stages of HER2-positive breast cancer”, Bill Burns, CEO of Roche’s Pharmaceuticals Division, said in a statement. “The ToGA study shows for the first time that Herceptin extends the lives of patients in a cancer other than breast cancer.”
Stomach cancer is the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the world, with over 900,000 new cases diagnosed each year, Roche said. Approximately 22% of stomach tumors overexpress HER2, or Human Epidermal growth factor Receptor 2, a protein that causes higher aggressiveness in tumors.
Herceptin, on the market since 1998, is marketed in the
Roche shares closed at CHF147.10 Tuesday, down 9.5% since the start of 2009.