Roche’s Avastin gets EU green light for cervical cancer

Roche is celebrating yet another approval in Europe for its oncology blockbuster Avastin, this time for late-stage cervical cancer.

The European Commission has approved Avastin (bevacizumab) in combination with standard chemotherapy for persistent, recurrent or metastatic carcinoma of the cervix. The thumbs-up is based on a Phase III trial which showed that women who received Avastin plus chemotherapy had a 26% reduction in the risk of death compared to women who received chemotherapy alone (16.8 months versus 12.9 months).

Roche chief medical officer Sandra Horning said that women in Europe now have “a much-needed new treatment option that is proven to help them live longer lives”. She added that “currently, fewer than one in six women with this disease are alive five years after diagnosis”.

There are two licensed vaccines to prevent many types of human papillomaviruses that can cause cervical cancer – Merck & Co’s Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix. Still, each day it is estimated that 90 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Europe, and around 35 of these will die from the disease.

The number of approved indications for Avastin in Europe already include advanced stages of breast, cancer, as well as colorectal, non-small cell lung, kidney and ovarian cancers. The latest thumbs-up will add to Avastin’s already-impressive sales which reached 6.42 billion Swiss francs last year.