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Sanofi Wins EU Agency’s Backing for Zaltrap for Cancer

Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. won backing from European Union regulators for their experimental medicine Zaltrap as a second-line treatment for colorectal cancer.

Zaltrap is recommended for approval for use with chemotherapy in adults whose cancer has spread after initial treatment, the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use said in a statement today. The European Commission usually follows the committee’s recommendations. The medicine, also known as aflibercept, will be used in combination with chemotherapy for patients whose cancer has spread and who have undergone a previous treatment.

U.S. regulators approved the drug in August. Paris-based Sanofi effectively cut the price of the $11,000-a-month drug in half after Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York decided not to use the medicine because it was more costly than Roche Holding AG’s Avastin and no more effective, the New York Times reported Nov. 9.

Analysts predict Sanofi will have 204.8 million euros ($260.8 million) of annual revenue from Zaltrap in 2015, the average of five estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sanofi recorded Zaltrap sales of 7 million euros in the third quarter.

Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher reorganized the company’s oncology business into a full-fledged division soon after taking over in December 2008. The unit’s most promising treatment, iniparib, failed in a key clinical study last year.

Sanofi and Tarrytown, New York-based Regeneron collaborate globally on development and sales of Zaltrap.

Zaltrap is designed to control cancer growth by blocking the blood supply to the tumor. More than 143,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are likely to be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

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