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Cancer Drug Trials (Tarceva) Disappoint


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Cancer Drug Trials Disappoint

Wed October 1, 2003 02:08 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Drugmakers Roche, Genentech Inc. and OSI Pharmaceuticals Inc. said on Wednesday that two first-line phase III studies of their drug Tarceva, combined with chemotherapy, did not improve overall lung cancer survival rates.

No. 2 U.S. biotech company Genentech said the disappointing results would not hurt previous earnings-per-share growth forecasts for the current or future years.

Tarceva is part of a new class of cancer drugs known as epidermal growth factor inhibitors, which are designed to block a protein involved in cancer cell division. Its mechanism of action is similar to that of Iressa, the lung cancer pill made by AstraZeneca Plc. ImClone Systems Inc.'s experimental drug Erbitux is also designed to block a protein involved in cancer cell division.

The companies said studies are continuing on second- and third-line non-small cell lung cancer and data are expected in early 2004.

Basel, Switzerland-based Roche conducted studies in Europe, while San Francisco-based Genentech oversaw the trials in the United States.

On Sept. 11, Investment adviser First Albany had raised its investment rating on OSI to "buy" from "neutral," citing the approaching conclusion of Phase III trials for its cancer drug Tarceva.

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