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Roche introduces new cancer drug

`Prolongs and improves' quality of life of patients

— Photo: Paul Noronha

DRUG TO TACKLE CANCER: G. L. Telang (right), Managing Director, Roche Scientific Company, with S. M. Laud, Company Secretary, launching the drug Tarceva to tackle growing lung cancer incidence in Mumbai on Tuesday.

MUMBAI: Roche Scientific Company on Tuesday launched its anti-cancer drug `Tarceva' (erlotinib), which `prolongs and improves' quality of life of patients, suffering from lung cancer.

Tarceva is a novel therapy for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after failure of at least one prior chemotherapy regiment, company Managing Director G. L. Telang told reporters here.

It was an oral tablet taken once a day and had the potential to treat many types of solid tumours and the drug had been approved in the U.S. since November 2004 and in the European Union since September 2005, Dr. Telang said.

The drug had demonstrated a striking survival benefit (42.5 per cent) in advanced non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease and had also shown to significantly improve patients' quality of life by alleviating the severe and debilitating symptoms that characterise advanced disease, such as cough, pain and breathlessness, Dr. Telang said.

Traceva works differently to chemotherapy by specifically targeting tumour cells and inhibiting their growth.

The drug blocks tumour cell growth by inhibiting the activity of a specific enzyme, tyrosine kinase, which is part of the human epidermal growth receptor (EGFR).

When asked whether the drug had been registered in the country, Dr. Telang said, the drug was a post-1995 patent and was in the mailbox in India since 1996. However, the company would conduct an Expanded Access Programme (EAP) with five cancer centres in the country and 25 patients would be given the treatment with the drug. — PTI

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