Study backs Glaxo's Tykerb in head and neck cancer

LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) - New clinical data supports the use of GlaxoSmithKline's GSK.L drug Tykerb as a treatment for head and neck cancer, endorsing the company's move to push ahead with a final Phase III study in this indication.

If successful, head and neck cancer is likely to be the second cancer type for which the drug -- also known as Tyverb or lapatinib -- is approved.

Patients given Tykerb alone in a Phase II trial showed an improvement in clinical response and also responded better when subsequently given chemoradiation therapy, researchers told the annual meeting of the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) in Stockholm on Sunday.

Tykerb -- a potential rival to Roche ROG.VX and Genentech's DNA.N Herceptin in breast cancer -- is an important new product for Glaxo, which is seeking to build up its presence in cancer medicine.

Sales of the medicine, however, are expected to take time to build up as Glaxo tests it against a range of different disease types.

Tykerb generated sales of 41 million pounds ($72 million) in the first half of the year as a treatment for advanced or metastatic breast cancer. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Rory Channing)