Eisai’s Breast Cancer Drug Failed to Show Advantage Over Xeloda

Eisai Co.’s breast cancer drug Halaven failed to show an advantage over Roche Holdings Inc.’s Xeloda in women whose disease had spread to other parts of the body, a study found.

Women with advanced breast cancer who were given Halaven after at least two prior chemotherapy regimens lived a median 15.9 months compared with 14.5 months for those given the Roche treatment, according to research presented today at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The results weren’t statistically significant.

The study was designed to see whether Halaven, or eribulin, would be effective if given earlier to women with metastatic breast cancer. While the results failed to show an advantage over Xeloda, they suggest the medicine may be helpful in earlier treatment, said Peter Kaufman at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

“This is still the first study demonstrating the activity of eribulin in earlier lines of treatment of metastatic breast cancer,” Kaufman said. The findings suggest possible benefits of eribulin in specific patients and are sufficient to warrant more study, the researchers concluded.

Eisai, based in Tokyo, funded the study. The company is seeking regulatory approval for earlier use of Halaven in patients with breast cancer than now indicated, which might help bolster sales.

Halaven Sales

Halaven generated 10.8 billion yen ($130 million) in sales for the six months ended Sept. 30. Roche’s Xeloda, approved for breast and colorectal cancer in markets such as Japan, Europe and the U.S., made $1.53 billion for the Basel, Switzerland-based company.

The study involved 1,102 patients with locally advanced or metastatic breast cancer previously treated with chemotherapy anathracyclines and taxanes. A second analysis showed that women given Halaven lived a median 4.1 months without their disease worsening compared with 4.2 months for those taking Xeloda.

Breast cancer is expected to strike about 226,879 women in the U.S. this year and cause almost 40,000 deaths, according to National Cancer Institute.

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