Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA)’s Treanda worked better than a standard therapy and with fewer side effects to slow the growth of immune system tumors, a finding that could push more doctors to prescribe the drug as an initial treatment.
Patients given Treanda and Roche Holding AG (ROG)’s Rituxan lived more than three years longer without their tumors progressing than those taking chemotherapy with Rituxan, according to results released today at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.
The study looked at patients with slow-growing lymphoma and mantle cell lymphoma who hadn’t been treated with other drugs. The finding may boost sales of Treanda, which are projected to increase five-fold to $670 million next year, the average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The drug, which isn’t approved for first-line use, generated $131 million in sales last year for Teva.
Treanda “is not only less toxic but also more effective than the most often used first line treatment approach,” said Mathias Rummel, professor of medicine at University Hospital Giessen in Germany and one of the study’s researchers. “It should be considered as a preferred, front-line treatment for patients.”
The treatment was developed decades ago in East Germany and has been widely used in Eastern Europe for decades, said Rummel. Doctors outside of the former Soviet Union only learned about it after the reunification of Germany and have been hesitant to use it, he said.
Treanda won U.S. approval in March 2008 for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer of the soft tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. The drug was cleared seven months later as a back-up therapy for patients with the slow-growing form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, or NHL.
Teva, based in Petach Tikvah, Israel gained the drug through its $6.8 billion purchase of Cephalon Inc. in 2011.
The study, which followed 514 patients, didn’t show a difference in survival between those taking Treanda or the standard regimen. Treanda plus Rituxan delayed tumor progression by about 70 months in patients compared with 31 months in those taking a placebo with chemotherapy and Rituxan. Patients taking Treanda had less hair loss and infections.
“This should likely become the new standard of care for these individuals,” said Bruce Roth, a professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis. “It is remarkable to have an agent that provides superior efficacy and less toxicity.”
Data released in 2009 showed the drug delayed tumor growth by 55 months as an initial treatment compared with 35 months for patients taking the standard regimen.
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