Oncologists expect Avastin Rxs to more than double: survey

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A recent survey of oncologists indicates market share for Genentech's Avastin could more than double as a first-line and second-line breast cancer therapy following last month's approval to treat the disease.

Respondents participating in GfK Market Measures' 2008 Avastin Market Event Study also said they expected hikes in Avastin use as a third-line therapy in treatment of metastatic breast cancer (MBC).  

Oncologists cited ease of reimbursement and the fact that the drug has been highlighted as the new standard of care as reasons for their anticipated increased use.

“These findings, obtained soon after the FDA's favorable decision regarding use of Avastin in HER2 negative MBC, indicate that an Avastin-based regimen will quickly become the new standard in frontline systemic therapy for these patients,” said Bill Bowman, VP and category business leader, oncology, GfK Market Measures.  “The survey results also suggest that several cytotoxic agents in wide use for MBC may be affected by being pushed back more to second- or third-line use, as Avastin grabs a larger share of the overall HER2 negative MBC patient population.”
GfK conducted its survey of 100 medical oncologists and hematologists/oncologists via Internet questionnaire from Feb. 28 through March 4. Avastin was granted approval as an MBC treatment on Feb. 22. 

Last month's Avastin approval caught many on Wall Street and in the medical community off guard.
The FDA went against the advice of its advisory panel, approving Avastin on measurements of tumor growth in patients, not patient survival rates.

“The news comes as a surprise, since the FDA's Oncologics Drug Advisory Committee in December voted five to four against approval for the drug,” wrote Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co. analyst Jim Reddoch in a research note issued Feb. 25.

Avastin was previously approved to treat colon and lung cancer and is considered Genentech's most important drug by analysts.

In 2007, Avastin had US sales of $2.3 billion. According to analysts' estimates, Avastin's  use as breast cancer treatment could add nearly $500 million in sales in the short term and even more in the next few years.

“Our 2008 Avastin estimate is $2.6 billion,” said Reddoch. “By 2012, we are forecasting nearly $860 million in US breast cancer sales, translating into a 39% penetration of the market, up from Avastin's current 25% penetration.”
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