Monday, Sep 29, 2014

Genentech’s Investigational Combination of Cobimetinib Plus Zelboraf (Vemurafenib) Provided Significant Benefit to People With Advanced Melanoma Over Zelboraf Alone

  • Cobimetinib plus Zelboraf reduced the risk of disease worsening by half compared to Zelboraf alone
  • Phase III coBRIM study results will be presented today during the Presidential Symposium at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) 2014 Congress and published in the New England Journal of Medicine
  • Roche has submitted a European Union marketing authorization application for the combination for the treatment of BRAF V600 mutation-positive advanced melanoma

South San Francisco, Calif. -- September 29, 2014 --

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY), today announced positive data from the coBRIM Phase III study. The results showed that people with previously untreated BRAF V600 mutation-positive advanced melanoma who received the MEK inhibitor cobimetinib plus Zelboraf® (vemurafenib) lived significantly longer without their disease worsening or death (progression-free survival; PFS) compared to Zelboraf alone.  

The combined therapy reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by half (hazard ratio [HR]=0.51, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] 0.39-0.68; p<0.0001), with a median PFS of 9.9 months for cobimetinib plus Zelboraf compared to 6.2 months with Zelboraf alone. The safety profile was consistent with a previous study of the combination. The most common adverse events seen in the combination arm included diarrhea, nausea, rash, photosensitivity and lab abnormalities.

“We combined cobimetinib and Zelboraf in this study to better inhibit a major cancer growth pathway and hopefully improve clinical outcomes,” said Sandra Horning, M.D., chief medical officer and head of Global Product Development. “The coBRIM results are exciting because they support the potential of the combination as a new treatment option for people with BRAF mutation-positive advanced melanoma.”

The coBRIM results were statistically significant across multiple secondary endpoints. The median PFS by independent review committee (IRC) was 11.3 months for the combination arm compared to 6.0 months for the control arm (HR=0.60, 95 percent CI 0.45-0.79; p=0.0003). The objective response rate (ORR) was higher in the combination compared to the control arm (68 vs. 45 percent; p<0.0001). Overall survival (OS) data are not yet mature.

The late-breaking coBRIM data will be presented at ESMO 2014 today during the Presidential Symposium by Professor Grant McArthur, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Australia (Abstract #LBA5_PR, Monday, September 29, 2014, 4:00-5:20 p.m. CEST) and are also part of the official press program. Additionally, the study was published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Roche has submitted the coBRIM data to the European Medicines Agency, and Genentech plans to submit a New Drug Application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this year.

About the coBRIM study

CoBRIM is an international, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Phase III study evaluating the safety and efficacy of 60 mg once daily of cobimetinib in combination with 960 mg twice daily of Zelboraf, compared to 960 mg twice daily of Zelboraf alone. In the study, 495 patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive unresectable locally advanced or metastatic melanoma (detected by the cobas® 4800 BRAF Mutation Test) and previously untreated for advanced disease were randomized to receive Zelboraf every day on a 28-day cycle plus either cobimetinib or placebo on days 1-21. Treatment was continued until disease progression, unacceptable toxicity or withdrawal of consent. Investigator-assessed PFS was the primary endpoint. In addition to PFS by IRC, ORR and OS, secondary endpoints included duration of response and other safety, pharmacokinetic and quality of life measures. 

There was a higher overall frequency of Grade 3 or higher adverse events in the combination arm (65 vs. 59 percent), with close to half of these due to lab abnormalities. Common adverse events (occurring in more than 20 percent) observed at a higher frequency (all grades) in the combination arm compared to the Zelboraf arm included diarrhea (57 vs. 28 percent), nausea (39 vs. 24 percent), photosensitivity (28 vs. 16 percent), lab abnormalities (increased alanine aminotransferase [24 vs. 18 percent], increased aspartate aminotransferase [22 vs. 13 percent], increased creatine phosphokinase [an enzyme released by muscles, 30 vs. 3 percent]) and vomiting (21 vs. 12 percent). Common adverse events observed at a lower frequency in the combination arm included hair loss (14 vs. 29 percent), thickening of the outer layer of the skin (10 vs. 29 percent) and joint pain (33 vs. 40 percent). Most instances of each common adverse event were Grade 1 or 2 in severity. 

Other select adverse events that were lower in the combination arm included cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (3 vs. 11 percent; all grades) and keratoacanthomas (<1 vs. 8 percent; all grades). Serous retinopathy (collection of fluid under the retina) was observed at a higher frequency in the combination arm (20 vs. <1 percent) with most of these events either Grade 1 or 2 and temporary in nature. Specific adverse events leading to withdrawal from treatment were similar in both study arms, as was the overall discontinuation rate from treatment (13 vs. 12 percent).

About melanoma 

Melanoma is less common, but more aggressive and deadlier than other forms of skin cancer. When melanoma is diagnosed early, it is generally a curable disease, but most people with advanced melanoma have a poor prognosis. The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 76,100 new cases of melanoma and approximately 9,700 melanoma deaths this year in the United States. In recent years, there have been significant advances in treatment for metastatic melanoma and people with the disease have more options. However, it continues to be a serious health issue with a high unmet need and a steadily increasing incidence over the past 30 years.

About the cobimetinib and Zelboraf combination 

Cobimetinib is designed to selectively block the activity of MEK, one of a series of proteins inside cells that make up a signaling pathway that helps regulate cell division and survival. Cobimetinib binds to MEK while Zelboraf binds to mutant BRAF, another protein on the pathway, to interrupt abnormal signaling that can cause tumors to grow.

About cobimetinib 

Cobimetinib (GDC-0973, XL518) was discovered by Exelixis Inc. and is being developed in collaboration with Exelixis. Cobimetinib is also being investigated in combination with several investigational medicines, including an immunotherapy, in several tumor types such as non-small cell lung cancer and colorectal cancer.

About Zelboraf

Zelboraf is a prescription medicine used to treat a type of skin cancer called melanoma that has spread to other parts of the body or cannot be removed by surgery, and has a certain type of abnormal “BRAF” gene. BRAF is mutated in approximately half of melanomas. A patient’s healthcare provider will perform a test to make sure that Zelboraf is right for the patient. Zelboraf is not used to treat melanoma with a normal BRAF gene. Zelboraf is now approved in more than 80 countries and has been used to treat more than 11,000 patients worldwide. Zelboraf was co-developed under a 2006 license and collaboration agreement between Roche and Plexxikon, now a member of the Daiichi Sankyo Group.

Important Safety Information

Zelboraf can cause serious side effects, including risk of cancers. Zelboraf may cause a type of skin cancer called cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cuSCC). New melanoma lesions have occurred in people who take Zelboraf. Zelboraf may also cause another type of cancer called non-cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Patients must talk with their healthcare provider about their risk for these cancers. Patients must check their skin and tell their doctor about skin changes including a new wart, a sore or bump that bleeds or does not heal, or a mole that changes size or color. 

A patient’s healthcare provider should also check for cancers that may not occur on the skin. Patients must tell their healthcare provider about any new symptoms that they get while taking Zelboraf.

While taking Zelboraf, patients should avoid sunlight. When they go outside, patients must wear clothes that protect their skin, including their head, face, hands, arms and legs. Patients must use lip balm and a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

Possible serious side effects of Zelboraf include severe allergic reactions, severe skin reactions, potentially life-threatening changes in the electrical activity of the heart called QT prolongation, abnormal liver function tests and eye problems. Patients must tell their doctor if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant as Zelboraf can harm a patient’s unborn baby.

Common side effects of Zelboraf include joint pain, rash, hair loss, tiredness, sunburn or sun sensitivity, nausea, itching or warts.

Patients must tell their doctor if they have any side effect that bothers them or does not go away. These are not all of the possible side effects of Zelboraf. For more information about side effects, patients should ask their doctor or pharmacist.

Report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or

Report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Patients should read the full Prescribing Information and Medication Guide for additional Important Safety Information at

About Genentech

Founded more than 35 years ago, Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and commercializes medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. The company, a member of the Roche Group, has headquarters in South San Francisco, California. For additional information about the company, please visit