Bayer AG (BAYN)’s Stivarga, a drug to treat advanced colorectal cancer that won U.S. regulatory approval last week, helps patients live longer, a study showed.
In a trial of 760 people with colorectal cancer that progressed after treatment with all other approved drugs, 24 percent of those receiving Stivarga were alive after a year, compared with 17 percent of those getting a placebo, according to data presented at the European Society of Medical Oncology’s meeting in Vienna today.
Sales of the drug may reach $500 million as a treatment for colorectal cancer and a rare form of gastrointestinal cancer, said Alison Ayers, senior vice president of Bayer’s oncology business unit. The company also plans to test Stivarga in liver cancer and earlier stages of colorectal cancer which, if successful, could boost sales to $1 billion, Ayers said.
“It shows that Bayer’s investment in oncology research is really paying off,” she said in a telephone interview before the conference.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Stivarga, also known as regorafenib, on Sept. 27 as a treatment for patients with colorectal cancer that’s progressed after treatment with other available drugs.
The data, from a Bayer-funded trial dubbed Correct, were first presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s meeting in January. Today’s presentation confirmed that those getting Stivarga survived a median 6.4 months from the start of the trial, compared with 5 months among those getting a placebo.
Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer killer in the U.S. in both men and women, according to Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer. More than 143,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease this year, and nearly 52,000 will die, the company said in a statement. The cancer spreads in about half of all cases, most commonly to the liver.
Bayer agreed last year to pay U.S. biotechnology company Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. (ONXX:US) a 20 percent royalty for the use of Stivarga in oncology.
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