Tarceva Plus Avastin Disappoint
Targeted, combination therapy in cancer sure seems like a good idea. However, the addition of the anti-angiogenesis mAb bevacizumab (Avastin; Genentech) to the EGFR inhibitor erlotinib (Tarceva; Genentech/OSI) did not improve overall survival in patients with platinum-refractory non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The results of the phase 3 trial (BeTa Lung) of the combination were provided by Genentech on Sunday in a press release.
In an international, placebo-controlled, double-blind, phase 3 trial, 636 patients with advanced, platinum-refractory NSCLC received erlotinib with either randomly assigned bevacizumab or placebo. Median survival, the primary endpoint, was 9.2 months in both treatment groups, according to the press release. But progression-free survival and the response rate, secondary endpoints, were higher with the addition of bevacizumab. These data, along with adverse events, will be presented at the upcoming Chicago Multidisciplinary Symposium in Thoracic Oncology in November.
Bevacizumab is approved as first-line treatment (with carboplatin and paclitaxel) in locally advanced, nonsquamous NSCLC, and erlotinib is approved for chemotherapy-refractory NSCLC. Another phase 3 study is evaluating the combination as first-line maintenance therapy for advanced NSCLC after treatment with bevacizumab.
Although the WSJ reported that Genentech and OSI shares fell on the trial news, stock prices—at least in the case of Genentech—appear to be riding along with the very bumpy indexes.
EGFR = epidermal growth factor receptor; mAb = monoclonal antibody.