June 26, 2009 / 5:27 AM / in 10 years

UPDATE 1-Roche files cancer drug for arthritis approval

* Files in Europe to extend use to three new indications

* Aims to expand MabThera use further in autoimmune diseases

(Adds details)

ZURICH, June 26 (Reuters) - Roche Holding AG ROG.VX filed its MabThera cancer drug for approval in Europe as a first line biologic treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, the Swiss group said on Friday.

The new filings are for patients who have not been treated with methotrexate, the current standard treatment option, for those who have had an inadequate response to methotrexate, and to prevent joint damage across all RA patients.

RA is an autoimmune disease characterised by inflammation that leads to stiff, swollen and painful joints which ultimately results in irreversible joint damage and disability.

MabThera is currently approved for use in RA patients who do not respond to other drugs known as tumour necrosis factor inhibitors, and Roche hopes to expand its use further in autoimmune diseases.

MabThera is known as Rituxan in the United States, where it is marketed by Roche’s recently acquired Genentech partner and Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O). It is the Swiss company’s biggest seller. (Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Hans Peters)

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