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Roche's lung cancer drug meets main goal in combination trial

Roche Holding AG's lung cancer drug Tecentriq, in combination with Avastin and chemotherapy, helped patients live longer, meeting one of the main goals in a late-stage study.

Results from the IMpower150 phase 3 trial showed that people with previously untreated, advanced non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC, who received the combination treatment had a 38% reduced risk of their disease worsening or death, compared with those who received Avastin plus chemotherapy.

The study also showed that 37% of patients receiving the combination of Tecentriq and Avastin plus chemotherapy survived for 12 months without their cancer progressing, compared to the 18% progression-free survival rate seen in patients receiving Avastin plus chemotherapy.

The rate of tumor shrinkage, or overall response rate — a secondary goal in the study — was higher in people treated with the Tecentriq combination, compared with Avastin plus chemotherapy. The combination was as safe as the individual drugs, and no new safety signals were identified with the combo.

The Swiss drugmaker's Genentech unit said the early results of the study's other main goal of overall survival are "encouraging."

The preliminary overall survival results will be presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress, with the next analysis of survival expected in the first half of 2018.

The study is the "first positive phase 3 combination trial that showed a cancer immunotherapy reduced the risk of the disease getting worse when used as an initial treatment in a broad group of people with advanced non-squamous NSCLC," Roche Chief Medical Officer Sandra Horning said.