Tarceva combo gets EU approval for advanced pancreatic cancer

In collaboration with the Press Association

EU medical regulators have approved the use of Tarceva in combination with gemcitabine for pancreatic cancer that has spread, the first new pancreatic cancer therapy for a decade.

This is the first step on the road to gaining approval for use on the NHS.

The therapy will next have to be approved by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), before final approval by NICE, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Trials have shown that the combination produces "significant improvement" in overall pancreatic survival compared to gemcitabine alone.

"We hope that patients facing pancreatic cancer, and the healthcare providers who treat them, will benefit from this new treatment option," said Gabriel Young of OSI, the drug company who carried out the trials.

The average survival time for patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer is around four months, which rose 23 per cent among patients given the Tarceva combination.

The therapy has already been approved in the US.

The results of GEMCAP, a Cancer Research UK-funded trial looking at gemcitabine in combination with a different drug, capecitabine, are expected this year.

Preliminary results from GEMCAP published in 2005 showed that the combination could also increase survival rates.

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