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New EU approval for Roche’s Tarceva

The European Commission has approved Roche's cancer treatment Tarceva for first-line use in patients with a certain type of non-small cell lung cancer

The European Commission (EC) has approved Roche's cancer treatment Tarceva (erlotinib) for first-line use in patients with a certain type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The drug, which is already approved as a secondary treatment in NSCLC and for metastatic pancreatic cancer, is now available for patients with advanced or metastatic NSCLC with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) activating mutations.

EGFR is a protein that extends across the cell membrane that can lead to accelerated cell growth and division and development in metastatic tumours. In some cases of NSCLC, the EGFR proteins can undergo mutations increasing their activity.

Roche said that treatment with Tarceva for patients with the condition had been shown to more than triple the number of people whose tumours shrank.

Dr Hal Barron, chief medical officer and head, global product development, Roche, said the approval was important as it provided an earlier chance for patients to begin therapy.

He stated: "These patients may derive greater benefit when the medicine is used as an initial treatment."

1st September 2011

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