(Yicai Global) Feb. 14 -- China approved Tecentriq, an innovative anti-cancer drug developed by pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding, for its first indication for first-line treatment of a wide range of small cell lung cancers in combination with chemotherapy, the company announced on its account on China's Twitter-like Weibo yesterday.
This is the first time Basel, Switzerland-based Roche has forayed into China's tumor immunotherapy market. Tecentriq contributed USD1.9 billion in revenue to the pharmaceutical giant in fiscal last year in an almost one and a half rise from a year earlier, company data show. This came mainly from the US and European markets.
Lung cancer is one of the most common and deadly types of carcinoma in the world. Lung cancer is mainly divided into small cell and non-small cell lung cancer. The former is closely related to smoking and long-term exposure to second-hand smoke. Over 80 percent of patients have a history of smoking. The prognosis of patients with small cell lung cancer is extremely poor. Cancer cell metastasis often occurs at the initial diagnosis stage, and the five-year average survival rate after diagnosis is only 2 percent. Chemotherapy is the most common clinical option for treating this type of cancer, but only 20 percent of patients experience symptomatic relief after treatment, to which they often in any case quickly develop resistance.
The median survival time of small cell lung cancer patients in the Tecentriq chemotherapy group was 12.3 months in clinical trials, the first time for the figure to be over one year, Cheng Ying, deputy director of the Chinese Society of Clinical Oncology said. The median survival time for the general chemotherapy group was 10.3 months.
China has eight cell-based immunotherapy drugs approved for market use. Aside from Tecentriq, three more are drugs imported from the UK's AstraZeneca and Merck & Co and Bristol-Myers Squibb in the US. The other four were developed by local Chinese companies, and more than 100 pharmaceutical firms are conducting related research and development.
Editors: Dou Shicong, Ben Armour