GSK to rush out breast cancer treatment after trials success

GlaxoSmithKline's experimental breast cancer treatment, Tykerb, has proved so successful in drug trials it will be made available to patients in late stages of the disease, even before it gets the nod from regulators.

Europe's largest drug maker is set to dominate the world's biggest cancer conference in Atlanta today with data on Tykerb. Unlike Roche's $1.8bn-a-year drug, Herceptin, Tykerb can reduce the size of brain tumours caused by breast cancer, a problem for 30 to 40 per cent of women with the aggressive, recurring form of the cancer. The data also demonstrates that Tykerb works on patients where Herceptin has failed, and shows a significant increase in life expectancy. As a pill, Tykerb is also more convenient than Herceptin, which has to be injected.

US regulators have allowed GSK to offer Tykerb to doctors who wish to treat women suffering from advanced breast cancer, before regulatory approval for full-scale marketing of the pill, which is expected sometime next year. In the UK, patients could also be treated with Tykerb on "compassionate" grounds.

Final-stage clinical trials have shown that Tykerb, when given to women in combination with the chemotherapy drug Xeloda, slows the development of the cancer, nearly doubling the length of time patients live without the disease. The trials were stopped ahead of schedule last month because Tykerb worked so well.

But GSK still has a long way to go. Clinical trials to test Tykerb on early-stage breast cancer will take several years. Meanwhile, Herceptin was approved by the European Commission this week to fight early-stage breast cancer, and is likely to be cleared in the UK soon. That promises relief to many sufferers, some of whom have fought to get the drug on the NHS, at an estimated cost of £20,000 per patient a year.

Tykerb is believed to be far cheaper than Herceptin once it comes on to the market.

The Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Roche is developing combination treatments that could rival Tykerb. More than 1 million women are newly diagnosed with breast cancer every year worldwide - about 40,000 in the UK.

GSK's cancer business, until now relatively small, is likely to be transformed next year with the launch of Tykerb and other blockbuster drugs, such as the cervical cancer vaccine Cervarix and Eltrombopag, a blood-clotting agent in the treatment of breast cancer. The group is also developing a lung cancer vaccine that would stop the disease spreading.

The drug maker has emerged as one of the front-runners in the $15bn-plus bidding for the consumer healthcare arm of its US rival Pfizer, along with Johnson & Johnson, Reckitt Benckiser and Wyeth. The deal would transform GSK into the world's largest maker of non-prescription drugs. Second-round bids have to be in by Tuesday.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive / Foreign Exchange Dealer - OTE £40,000+

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Foreign Exchange Dealer is re...

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea