National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Study: Breast Cancer Drug Significantly Extends Survival

Study: Breast Cancer Drug Significantly Extends Survival

October 1, 2014 — Women with an aggressive form of breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body lived 15.7 months longer if their treatment regimen included a Roche drug called Perjeta, according to a study supported by the drugmaker, the Wall Street Journal reports (Morse, Wall Street Journal, 9/28).

The 15.7-month survival extension is the longest ever recorded for a drug being studied in women with metastatic breast cancer, according to Reuters (Hirschler, Reuters, 9/28).

The study was conducted among 800 patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancers. The study participants either took Herceptin -- another Roche drug -- and underwent chemotherapy, or they took Perjeta in addition to Herceptin and chemotherapy.

Both Herceptin and Perjeta are developed from organisms and "work by blocking the HER2 protein," the Journal reports (Wall Street Journal, 9/28).

Key Findings

Women who took Perjeta along with Herceptin and chemotherapy lived for a median of 56.5 months, compared with 40.8 months among women who did not take Perjeta.

Further, the results mean that the risk of dying was reduced by 32% for women who took Perjeta, compared with those who received Herceptin and chemotherapy alone (Reuters, 9/28). The study was presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology annual meeting.

Implications

According to the New York Times, the findings could lead to increased use of Perjeta, which FDA approved in 2012.

The drug already is considered to be the standard of care in the U.S. However, only about 50% of eligible women are treated with it in the U.S., according to a Roche spokesperson (Pollack, New York Times, 9/28).