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Roche's lung cancer drug improves survival in follow-on study

Roche Holding AG's Alecensa helped people with a certain type of lung cancer live longer by almost two years compared to Pfizer Inc.'s Xalkori, or crizotinib, according to follow-up data from a phase 3 study.

The company's unit Genentech Inc. said the two years of follow-up data was from the phase 3 study, named Alex, in patients with anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive, or ALK-positive metastatic non-small cell lung cancer, that compared Alecensa to Xalkori.

Genentech said Alecensa significantly reduced the risk of the disease progressing or death by about 57% compared to Xalkori. Patients on Alecensa lived for almost 34.8 months without the disease worsening, compared to 10.9 months for those on Xalkori.

Alecensa has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission to treat ALK-positive metastatic non-small cell lung cancer.