Thursday, May 15, 1997
South San Francisco, Calif. -- May 15, 1997 --Genentech, Inc. (NYSE: GNE) today announced its entry into the oncology market with a new BioOncology initiative backed by a pipeline of innovative biotherapeutic agents.
"With one drug being marketed and four products in development, Genentech has one of the strongest oncology pipelines in cancer research," said Arthur D. Levinson, Ph.D., Genentech's president and chief executive officer. "Recognizing our positive R&D results in this area and the significant commercial opportunity that these products represent, Genentech is committed to continuing its scientific and clinical efforts in the field of oncology."
Genentech will enter the oncology market by promoting Roferon®-A (Interferon alfa-2a) for oncology indications. Roferon-A is a biological response modifier available in the United States for several types of cancer, including hairy-cell leukemia, AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma and Philadelphia Chromosome Positive chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Genentech has recruited a sales force of trained professional representatives dedicated to oncology and is launching its new BioOncology initiative during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) at Booth #552, May 17-20 in Denver.
"Entering the oncology market with Roferon-A is particularly exciting," said Dr. Levinson, "because, although it was marketed until recently by Hoffmann-La Roche, it is a product of an early research collaboration between the two companies."
The majority of Genentech's oncology agents in development (see table) are new types of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that work by focusing on cellular mechanisms of cancer. One such MAb is the C2B8 antibody, rituximab, recently submitted under shared BLAs by Genentech and IDEC Pharmaceuticals for review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The drug is under consideration as single agent therapy for the treatment of relapsed low grade or follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. If cleared for marketing, it will be the first available therapeutic monoclonal antibody for the treatment of cancer in the United States.
"Our goal is to utilize strong Genentech science, particularly our monoclonal antibody technology, to provide new cancer therapeutics that focus on cancer cells and potentially avoid some of the chemotherapy-associated side effects, such as nausea and hair loss," said Susan Hellmann, M.D., Genentech's vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer.
Other monoclonal antibodies in development at Genentech include a molecule for metastatic breast cancer and an angiogenesis inhibitor that may attack cancer tumors by starving their blood supply. A supportive therapy that potentially improves platelet counts following chemotherapy or radiation therapy also is in clinical trials.
Genentech, Inc. is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures and markets human pharmaceuticals for significant unmet medical needs. Eleven of the currently marketed biotechnology products stem from Genentech science; six of which Genentech markets directly in the United States. The company is headquartered in South San Francisco, and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and Pacific Exchange under the symbol GNE.
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