* Drug reaches primary endpoint in Phase III trial
* Advanced breast cancer patients live longer disease-free
* Study combined Avastin with common chemotherapies
* Shares up 0.2 pct vs. 0.1 pct sector index rise
(Adds analyst comment, shares)
ZURICH, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Swiss-based Roche Holding AG ROG.VX said on Tuesday a study had showed its drug Avastin increased life expectancy for women with breast cancer without the disease getting worse, when used alongside common chemotherapies.
Roche, the world’s largest maker of cancer drugs, said in a statement the drug reached its primary endpoint in a Phase III trial, lengthening the survival of patients with previously treated advanced HER2 negative breast cancer without the disease progressing, compared to treatment with chemotherapy alone.
“Yet another test result that boosts broad-spectrum cancer drug Avastin’s reputation. Even if there is occasional criticism of the drug, the positive aspects clearly outweigh this,” said analysts Marco Schwender and Martin Koch at private bank Wegelin.
Shares in Roche traded 0.2 percent higher at 0834 GMT, compared with a 0.1 percent rise in the DJ Stoxx European healthcare index .SXDP.
Avastin, which works by starving tumours of blood supply and is made by Roche’s recently acquired Genentech unit, is already used to treat lung, colon and breast cancers, and had annual global sales of 5.2 billion Swiss francs ($4.8 billion) in 2008. Roche said in July that the European Commission had approved the broader use of Avastin in the first-line treatment of metastatic breast cancer.
Breast cancer is still the leading cause of cancer death in women under the age of 55 and more than one million women are diagnosed each year, leading to more than 500,000 deaths from breast cancer worldwide. ($1=1.075 Swiss Franc) (Reporting by Jason Rhodes; editing by Simon Jessop, Gilbert Kreijger)