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New study backs Roche's Avastin in lung cancer

* Italian Phase IV study uncovers no new safety issues

* Data from broad population group seen as “reassuring”

LONDON, July 20 (Reuters) - Roche's ROG.VX blockbuster drug Avastin won an renewed endorsement as a treatment for lung cancer on Tuesday from a clinical study looking at the drug's use in a broad, real-life setting.

The outcome of the Phase IV study by Lucio Crino of the Hospital Santa Maria della Misericordia in Perugia, Italy, was significant because there have been concerns about the safety of Avastin in lung cancer and doubts among some doctors on its use.

Worries over the drug’s side effects have also led some industry analysts to trim sales forecasts for Avastin in lung cancer -- a key market for the medicine, which is also used to treat bowel, breast and other cancers.

After studying 2,212 patients who were given Avastin on top of various types of chemotherapy, Crino and colleagues found no new safety problems and concluded that previously known toxicities, such as bleeding, were no more common in this broad population than among patients in earlier Phase III tests.

“The study findings confirm the well established and manageable safety profile of bevacizumab (Avastin),” they wrote in the journal Lancet Oncology.

Outside commentator Robert Pirker at the Medical University of Vienna said the findings were “reassuring” and showed that Avastin could be used safely in properly selected patients with advanced non-squamous non-small-cell lung cancer.

Avastin, which had sales of 6.2 billion Swiss francs ($5.9 billion) last year, is being reviewed this week by a U.S. advisory panel that is considering whether or not its clinical benefit has been demonstrated in breast cancer.

Fears that U.S. regulators might decide to restrict marketing of the drug because of lack of evidence in breast cancer hit shares in the Swiss drugmaker on Friday. [ID:nN16136662] (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Michael Shields)

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