Roche's subcutaneous MabThera approved in Europe

ZURICH, March 28 Fri Mar 28, 2014 2:56am EDT

ZURICH, March 28 (Reuters) - Swiss drugmaker Roche said on Friday that European regulators have approved a new timesaving formulation of its blood cancer drug MabThera, which it hopes will help extend the medicine's shelf life.

The European Commission has given the nod to a new subcutaneous formulation of MabThera for common forms of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which cuts down treatment time to five minutes from the 2.5 hours it takes to administer the drug intravenously.

The green light for this new MabThera formulation follows on from the European approval for a subcutaneous form of its breast cancer drug Herceptin last September.

Roche is banking on these new timesaving formulations to help prolong the shelf life of its older biotech drugs MabThera and Herceptin even as they lose patent protection.

It is also building its defences by bringing out so-called follow-on products, which are better versions of its mainstay products.

Last November, U.S. health regulators approved its drug Gazyva as a treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Roche is also testing the drug in patients with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

The drugmaker has also won approval for two new breast cancer drugs, Perjeta and Kadcyla.

(Reporting by Caroline Copley. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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