Roche has issued findings from an exploratory analysis of a late-stage trial which shows that patients with the most common form of non-small cell lung cancer have a 45% better chance of survival with the firm’s oncology blockbuster Avastin.

Data from the 878-patient Phase III trial called E4599 demonstrated that Avastin (bevacizumab) in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin chemotherapy led to an increase in overall survival of four months over chemotherapy alone in patients with advanced adenocarcinoma. The E4599 study previously reported a significant increase in median overall survival in advanced NSCLC and was the first time a treatment was proven to extend overall survival beyond one year in these difficult to treat patients, Roche said.

Now, the firm said, this new analysis has demonstrated that patients with adenocarcinoma achieved a median overall survival of 14.2 months when treated with an Avastin-based therapy compared to 10.3 months seen with chemotherapy alone. This “is the first time a benefit of this magnitude, an overall survival beyond 14 months, has been reported in patients with adenocarcinoma”, Roche noted.

Data from the E4599 and AVAiL studies formed the basis of Avastin’s European approval in lung cancer in August 2007 and the Basel-based group noted that treatment based on bevacizumab is proven to help patients with advanced lung cancer live longer than ever before and also increase the time patients live without their cancer getting worse.

Roche added that the safety of Avastin in advanced NSCLC has been confirmed in data from these two Phase III trials and shown that side effects specific to the treatment “are limited and manageable” compared to those of chemotherapy. The drug, which is approved for colon, lung and breast cancers, had nine-month sales of 3.7 billion Swiss francs, up 37%.