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Roche Boosted by Trial Success with Blood Cancer Drug | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Roche tablets are seen positioned in front of a displayed Roche logo in this photo illustration shot January 22, 2016. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Roche got a big boost on Friday following a successful clinical trial testing its new blood cancer drug, Gazyva, thus bracing visions for a new medicine that will be pivotal as the Swiss company fights the threat of biosimilar competition.

Gazyva proved to be considerably better than its older drug Rituxan at building blocks infront of the progression of the disease, delaying its advancement in people with previously untreated follicular lymphoma, according to Roche.

Clinical trials with the new drug are vital in deciding how well the Swiss drug-maker is placed to fend off inexpensive competition from so-called biosimilar copies of Rituxan, which are likely to hit the market in the next couple of years.

ZKB analyst Michael Nawrath, said in a note that “Gazyva has long been considered as superior to Rituxan.” The latter added that follicular lymphoma was a much bigger indication than previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia, for which Gazyva is already agreed upon in more than 70 countries.

“The U.S. approval of Gayzva for previously treated follicular lymphoma (in February) didn’t lead to a breakthrough in sales, but the approval as a first-line treatment will,” said Nawrath.

Vontobel analyst, Stefan Schneider, said that replacing Rituxan with Gazyva plays a role in protecting Roche’s CD20 franchise revenues from biosimilar erosion”.

Follicular lymphoma is considered incurable and relapse is common. It is estimated that more than 75,000 people are diagnosed with this most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma each year worldwide, Roche said.