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Roche Holding AG said its most advanced experimental drug to harness the immune system in the fight against cancer may win U.S. regulatory approval this year, becoming the first such treatment to help the roughly 430,000 people diagnosed annually with bladder cancer.
The medicine, called atezolizumab, may generate around $3 billion in sales by 2020, according to Bloomberg Intelligence. It will face competition from Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. products.
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“We are very optimistic about the hope for immuno-oncology and our role,” Daniel O’Day, Roche’s head of pharmaceuticals, said on a conference call. “We will be entering the market soon with atezolizumab in a new indication, bladder cancer, which today, in fact for the past 30 years, hasn’t had anything really new come to the market.”
Atezolizumab may also get U.S. approval this year for a type of lung cancer, according to O’Day. An older trio of cancer drugs helped Europe’s largest drugmaker report a 5 percent increase in first-quarter sales on Tuesday. Revenue climbed to 12.4 billion Swiss francs ($12.9 billion), the Basel, Switzerland-based company said in a statement. That compared with the 12.3 billion-franc average of eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Roche didn’t report first-quarter earnings.
By Johannes Koch (Bloomberg)