Roche has licensed exclusive marketing rights outside the USA to Avastin (bevacizumab), a drug for colorectal cancer, from Genentech. The latter company will retain all rights to the drug in its home market.
Roche's relationship with Genentech, in which it holds a majority stake, has provided it with a steady stream of licensing opportunities over the last few years, including the breast cancer drug Herceptin (trastuzumab) and MabThera (rituximab) for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the oncology setting.
Avastin is the latest in this series and caused great excitement last month when Genentech reported Phase III data showing that it could improve survival by 50 per cent in previously-untreated CRC patients, prompting analysts to speculate that it could achieve peak sales of around $1 billion (€880 million). The drug acts as an antibody against vascular endothelial growth factor, a protein linked to the formation of new blood vessels in tumours.
In addition to being developed for colorectal cancer, Roche and Genentech will jointly develop Avastin in other tumour types (e.g. renal cell carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer and metastatic breast cancer.
Meanwhile, Roche Diagnostics has opened a new Spanish headquarters in Sant Cugat del Vallès. The new facility, which will employ 300 staff, has been set up with an investment of €33 million.
Sant Cugat will be the distribution platform for Spain and Portugal and will also handle the distribution of some product lines to the Near East, Africa and Latin America, according to Roche. It also has a development centre for clinical laboratory software.