Older patients found to need less chemo with MabThera
ZURICH (Reuters) - Shorter courses of chemotherapy taken with Roche Holding AG's cancer drug MabThera are as effective as longer courses in elderly patients with aggressive lymphoma, a study in The Lancet Oncology showed.
Six cycles of chemotherapy plus MabThera worked as well as eight cycles and should be the preferred treatment for elderly patients, according to the study of 1,222 patients, to be published in the February issue.
"Importantly for this elderly population, patients can be spared the toxicity and side-effects of an additional two cycles of chemotherapy," The Lancet Oncology said in a statement.
The three-year event-free survival rate was 66.5 percent after six cycles, and 63.1 percent after eight cycles, the study found.
MabThera -- known as Rituxan in the United States, where it is sold by Roche's partners Genentech Inc and Biogen Idec -- is the Swiss company's biggest seller, raking in 4.8 billion Swiss francs ($4.39 billion) in 2006.
(Reporting by Sam Cage, editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)