Monday, Mar 14, 2005
South San Francisco, Calif. and Basel, Switzerland -- March 14, 2005 --Genentech, Inc. (NYSE: DNA) and Roche (SWX Zurich) today announced that an interim analysis of a Phase III study of Avastin (bevacizumab) plus paclitaxel and carboplatin chemotherapies in first-line non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) met its primary efficacy endpoint of improving overall survival, or a reduction in the risk of death, compared to chemotherapy alone. The trial was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, under a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement between NCI and Genentech, Inc., and conducted by a network of researchers led by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG). According to ECOG, data from this study will be submitted to the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), May 13 - 17, 2005.
"These results represent the first study combining a targeted biologic therapy with chemotherapy to show an overall survival improvement in the first-line non-small cell lung cancer setting, and the first time that any treatment has improved upon the standard, two-drug chemotherapy regimen in this disease," said Hal Barron, M.D., Genentech senior vice president, development and chief medical officer. "We would like to thank our collaborators at NCI and ECOG for their work on this study, as well as the many patients and their families who made the decision to participate in this study. We plan to share these data with the FDA to discuss the possibility of filing a supplemental Biologics License Application for Avastin plus chemotherapy in first-line non-small cell lung cancer."
This is the first Phase III study to evaluate the therapeutic antibody Avastin in combination with chemotherapy in NSCLC. This was a randomized, controlled, multicenter trial that enrolled 878 patients with previously-untreated advanced NSCLC. The patients enrolled in this trial were randomized to receive treatment with paclitaxel and carboplatin chemotherapies with or without Avastin.
In previous clinical experience with Avastin in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin in NSCLC, life-threatening or fatal pulmonary bleeding was identified as a severe adverse event apparently unique to this disease. Certain characteristics, including any significant pulmonary bleeding prior to receiving treatment with Avastin or the presence of a specific type of NSCLC called squamous cell carcinoma appeared to predispose patients to experiencing this adverse event. Patients with these characteristics were excluded from this Phase III study and the rate of life-threatening or fatal pulmonary bleeding was substantially reduced from prior clinical studies. However, some patients did experience fatal pulmonary bleeding in this trial and this event was more common in the patient group that received Avastin in combination with chemotherapy than in the patient group that received chemotherapy only. Other adverse events observed in this study were similar to those identified in previous Phase II and Phase III studies of Avastin. More detailed information about adverse events in this study will be presented at the ASCO meeting in May.
Avastin is a therapeutic antibody designed to inhibit Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), a protein that plays an important role in tumor angiogenesis and maintenance of existing tumor vessels. By binding to VEGF, Avastin is designed to interfere with the blood supply to tumors, a process that is critical to tumor growth and metastasis. For full prescribing information, including Boxed Warnings for Avastin and information about Avastin and angiogenesis, visit www.gene.com or www.avastin.com.
The FDA approved Avastin on February 26, 2004 as a first-line treatment for metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with intravenous 5-FU-based chemotherapy. Approval was based on data from two trials. The pivotal trial was a large, placebo-controlled, randomized study of 925 patients that demonstrated a prolongation in the median survival of patients treated with Avastin plus the IFL (5-FU/leucovorin/CPT-11) chemotherapy regimen by approximately five months, compared to patients treated with the IFL chemotherapy regimen alone (20.3 months versus 15.6 months). In addition, this study demonstrated an improvement in progression-free survival (PFS) of more than four months (10.6 months in the Avastin/IFL arm compared to 6.4 months in the IFL-alone arm).
Based on data showing that VEGF may play a broad role in a range of cancers, Genentech is pursuing a late-stage clinical development program with Avastin evaluating its potential use in adjuvant and metastatic colorectal, renal cell (kidney), breast, non-small cell lung and ovarian cancers. Avastin is also being evaluated in earlier stage trials as a potential therapy in a variety of solid tumor cancers and hematologic malignancies. For further information about Avastin clinical trials, please call 888-662-6728.
Avastin Safety Profile
Avastin has a well-established safety profile. In Genentech-sponsored studies, the most serious adverse events associated with Avastin were gastrointestinal perforation, wound healing complications, hemorrhage, arterial thromboembolic events, hypertensive crisis, nephrotic syndrome and congestive heart failure. The most common Grade 3-4 adverse events (occurring in greater than two percent of patients in the Avastin arm, compared to the control group) were asthenia, pain, hypertension, diarrhea and leukopenia. The most common adverse events (occurring in greater than two percent of patients in the Avastin arm, compared to the control group) of any severity were asthenia, pain, abdominal pain, headache, hypertension, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, anorexia, stomatitis, constipation, upper respiratory infection, epistaxis, dyspnea, exfoliative dermatitis and proteinuria.
About VEGF and Tumor Angiogenesis
The link between angiogenesis and cancer growth has been discussed by many researchers for decades. It wasn't until 1989 that a key growth factor influencing the process, VEGF, was discovered by Napoleone Ferrara, M.D., a staff scientist at Genentech. Dr. Ferrara and his team cloned VEGF, providing some of the first evidence that a specific angiogenic growth factor existed. This research was published in the journal Science in 1989. Dr. Ferrara then created a mouse antibody to this protein. In 1993, Dr. Ferrara and his team at Genentech, in a study published in Nature, demonstrated that the antibody directed against VEGF could suppress angiogenesis and tumor growth in preclinical models, providing compelling evidence that VEGF can play a critical role in tumor growth. Clinical studies with a humanized version of the antibody, Avastin, began in 1997.
About Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer
According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 1.2 million cases worldwide of lung and bronchial cancer each year, causing approximately 1.1 million deaths annually. An estimated 173,000 people were diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States in 2004. According to the National Cancer Institute, lung cancer is the single largest cause of cancer deaths in the United States and is responsible for nearly 30 percent of cancer deaths in this country. NSCLC is the most common form of the disease and accounts for almost 80 percent of all lung cancers.
About Genentech BioOncology
Genentech is committed to changing the way cancer is treated by establishing a broad oncology portfolio of innovative, targeted therapies with the goal of improving patients' lives. The company is the leading provider of anti-tumor therapeutics in the United States. Genentech is leading clinical development programs for Rituxan® (Rituximab), Herceptin® (Trastuzumab), Avastin (bevacizumab) and Tarceva (erlotinib), and markets all four products in the United States alone (Avastin and Herceptin), with Biogen Idec Inc. (Rituxan) or with OSI Pharmaceuticals (Tarceva). Genentech has licensed Rituxan, Herceptin, and Avastin, and OSI Pharmaceuticals has licensed Tarceva to Roche for sale by the Roche Group outside of the United States.
The company has a robust pipeline of potential oncology therapies with a focus on four key areas: angiogenesis, apoptosis (i.e. programmed cell death), the HER pathway and B-cell biology. Potential oncology therapies directed at the HER pathway include a therapeutic antibody currently in Phase II trials. Also in early development are a small molecule directed at the hedgehog pathway, a soluble human protein targeting apoptosis and a humanized anti-CD20 antibody for hematology/oncology indications.
Genentech is a leading biotechnology company that discovers, develops, manufactures, and commercializes biotherapeutics for significant unmet medical needs. A considerable number of the currently approved biotechnology products originated from, or are based on, Genentech science. Genentech manufactures and commercializes multiple biotechnology products directly in the United States and licenses several additional products to other companies. The company has headquarters in South San Francisco, Calif., and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DNA. For additional information about the company, please visit http://www.gene.com.
Roche in Oncology
Within the last five years the Roche Group including its partners Genentech in the US and Chugai in Japan has become the world's leading provider of anti-cancer treatments, supportive care products and diagnostics. Its oncology business includes an unprecedented four marketed products with survival benefit in different major tumour indications: Xeloda and Herceptin in advanced stage breast cancer, MabThera in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and Avastin in colorectal carcinoma. In the United States Herceptin, MabThera and Avastin are marketed either by Genentech alone or together with Biogen Idec Inc. Outside of the United States, Roche and its Japanese partner Chugai are responsible for the marketing of these drugs.
The Roche oncology portfolio also includes NeoRecormon (anaemia in various cancer settings), Bondronat (prevention of skeletal events in breast cancer and bone metastases patients, hypercalcaemia of malignancy), Kytril (chemotherapy and radiotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting) and Roferon-A (hairy cell and chronic myeloid leukaemia, Kaposi's sarcoma, malignant melanoma, renal cell carcinoma). CERA is the most recent demonstration of the commitment to anaemia management. The Roche Group's cancer medicines generated sales of more than 3.3 billion Swiss francs in the first half of 2004.
Roche is developing new tests, which will have a significant impact on disease management for cancer patients in the future. With a broad portfolio of tumour markers for prostate, colorectal, liver, ovarian, breast, stomach, pancreas and lung cancer, as well as a range of molecular oncology tests, we will continue to be the leaders in providing cancer focused treatments and diagnostics.
Roche Oncology has four research sites (two in the US, Germany and Japan) and four Headquarter Development sites (two in the US, UK and Switzerland).
For full prescribing information, including Boxed Warnings for Avastin, please call 800-821-8590 or visit www.gene.com.