Roche (RHHBY - Analyst Report) received positive news when the EU Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use recommended that the European Commission approve the use of Avastin in combination with chemotherapy as a treatment for women with ovarian cancer that is resistant to platinum-containing chemotherapy.
We note that Avastin is approved in Europe for the treatment of advanced stages of breast cancer, colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, kidney cancer and ovarian cancer, and in the U.S. for the treatment of colorectal cancer, non-small cell lung cancer and kidney cancer.
Roche filed for the new indication for Avastin based on encouraging results from a phase III study, AURELIA. The study was conducted among women suffering from recurrent, platinum-resistant ovarian cancer who received either chemotherapy or Avastin added to chemotherapy.
The results from the study showed that the addition of Avastin to chemotherapy reduced the risk of disease worsening or death by 62%. AURELIA is the fourth phase III study on Avastin conducted in women suffering from ovarian cancer to demonstrate that Avastin can significantly increase the lifespan of women without worsening of the disease.
We note that Avastin was one of the leading drugs for Roche. Avastin generated sales of CHF 1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2014.
We are encouraged by Roche's efforts to expand Avastin's label which should further boost sales.
Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the broader healthcare sector include Shire (SHPG - Analyst Report), Allergan (AGN - Analyst Report) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN - Analyst Report). While Regeneron Pharma carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Shire and Allergan carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).