ZURICH, SEPT 1 - The European Commission has approved Roche's medicine Tarceva for use in patients with a genetically distinct type of lung cancer, the world's largest maker of cancer drugs said on Thursday.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death globally, killing more people than breast, colon, kidney, liver, skin and prostate cancers combined, the Basel-based firm said.
The approval will enable the use of Tarceva in people with locally advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations, Roche said in a statement, adding that treatment with this medicine has been shown to more than triple the number of patients with shrinking tumours.
"Advanced lung cancer is often diagnosed with little warning of symptoms and progresses aggressively, so it is important to identify which patients may benefit from early treatment with Tarceva," Hal Barron, Chief Medical Officer and Head of Global Product Development, said in a statement.
EGFR is a protein involved in the growth and development of cancers that extend across the cell membrane. The epidermal growth factor (EGF) binds to the part of the EGFR protein that sits on the outside of the cell.
Some NSCLC tumours have activating mutations in the EGFR gene, changing the structure of the EGFR proteins such that they have increased activity, Roche said. (Reporting by Katie Reid; Editing by Will Waterman)