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Roche's breast cancer franchise given boost by postive trial data

LONDON--Roche, the world's biggest maker of cancer drugs, got a boost on Monday as results of trials that will protect sales of its breast cancer drug Herceptin coincided with data showing a new drug in the franchise helped patients live longer.

Two trials on Roche's blockbuster Herceptin wiped out a risk that they could have indicated a shorter period of treatment than the current recommendation of one year — a finding that could have cost up to US$1.5 billion in sales.

A third trial comparing Roche's experimental drug TDM-1 with a standard cocktail of drugs in patients with an aggressive form of advanced breast cancer showed the new drug helped patients live more than five months longer.

TDM-1, or trastuzumab emtansine, is an “armed antibody” drug being developed by Roche and Immunogen as a successor to Herceptin, which could be exposed to so-called “biosimilar” generic competition in Europe from around 2015.

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