Colon Cancer Drug Flunks Important Test
Avastin's effects on early-stage disease don't meet expectations
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 22, 2009 8:07 AM CDT
The Genentech Inc. headquarters are seen in South San Francisco, Calif., in this July 10, 2006 file photo.    (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – Clinical trials to determine the drug Avastin’s effects on early-stage colon cancer were a big disappointment for drug firm Genentech, the New York Times reports. The drug, which is typically used in late-stage cancer, didn’t significantly cut the recurrence rate among 2,700 subjects in the early stages, Genentech said. A successful study could have meant billions more yearly for the firm.

Current chemotherapy already keeps some 70% of patients cancer-free for 3 years after surgery; beating that was a tall order, the Times notes. When Roche recently acquired Genentech, the American company trumpeted the possible new use of Avastin. Now it appears the Swiss firm may have overpaid. But the companies say they haven’t given up on early-stage use.