Abraxis BioScience has launched Abraxane in the European Union, initially in the UK for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer.

Abraxane is an albumin-bound nanoparticle formulation of paclitaxel and the indication is specifically for patients who have failed first-line treatment for metastatic disease and for whom standard, anthracycline-containing therapy is not indicated. Following the UK, the therapy will be launched in Germany in the first quarter of 2009, and Innovex, a unit of Quintiles Transnational Corp, is going to market the product.

Patrick Soon-Shiong, chief executive at Abraxis, said that Abraxane is already selling well in India, China and the Asia-Pacific region. “Our EU launch marks an important entry point in building a truly global presence," he added.

The company quoted Robert Coleman, an oncology specialist at the Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield, as saying that in a Phase III study, Abraxane demonstrated statistically significant superiority over solvent-based paclitaxel injection in response rate, progression free survival and overall patient survival, with comparable tolerability. He added that Abraxane “should become the paclitaxel therapy of choice for oncologists throughout Europe for the second-line treatment of patients with metastatic breast cancer.” It requires no pre-medication as it is not formulated with toxic solvents and is more convenient to administer than solvent-based paclitaxel.

The UK Department of Health has agreed a price of £246 per 100mg vial of Abraxane, which has been approved for marketing in 36 countries. Approval has been received in China, with an anticipated launch in 2009 and the therapy is currently under active review in Japan and Russia.