Genentech-Avastin Combination No Better Lung Cancer Treatment

Armen Hareyan's picture

A clinical trial looking at combination of two popular lung cancer drugs Tarceva and Avastin showed that the drugs given together for lung cancer treatment do not increase survival rates.

Tarceva is marketed by Genentech and Avastin by Roche. Both drugs are already widely available in US and Europe as lung cancer treatment. Both drugs belong to a series of drugs under targeted therapies – innovative drugs that are also called ‘smart bombs’ because they are able to differ cancerous cells from healthy ones and kill those affected by the disease.


Genentech and Roche initiated Phase III clinical trial to see if the drug combination can provide with better survival rates to advanced non-small cell lung cancer, which is the most common and deadly type of lung cancer.

Researchers reported that drug combination does not provide with improved survival rates than Tarceva does. This is a disappointing result, because the drug combination would be a good choice for drugmakers: there would be no much effort needed to develop new drugs; Tarceva’s and Avastin’s adverse side effects are already known and acceptable.

However, drug combination provided with some improvement: the time when patients live without the disease getting worse was increased together with response rate. Researchers also mention that this trial results can be successfully used in further studies examining lung cancer treatments.

The trial had both advantages and disadvantages, but Tarceva and Avastin combination was not recognized as successful lung cancer treatment, because the two drugs together would cost $12000 a month, which is a very high price compared to what the drug combination gives to patients.