Genentech and OSI Pharmaceuticals have announced the combination treatment of Avastin (bevacizumab) with Tarceva (erlotinib) has not shown to improve survival in a Phase III study.

The companies were looking at the combined treatment in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer whose disease had progressed following platinum-based chemotherapy. Results showed the primary endpoint of improving overall survival compared to Tarceva in combination with placebo was not met.

“We are disappointed this study did not show an improvement in survival for patients with advanced lung cancer who have a poor prognosis and a disease that is extremely difficult to treat,” said Hal Barron, Genentech's Senior Vice President of Development and Chief Medical Officer.

However, other results showed improvements in secondary endpoints of progression-free survival and response rate when the drugs were combined. Findings are being further analysed.

Avastin is currently approved as a treatment in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel chemotherapy for patients with locally advanced, non-squamous, NSCLC. Tarceva is currently approved as a treatment for patients with advanced NSCLC who have progressed following treatment with at least one prior chemotherapy regimen.

A second study is evaluating the combination of Avastin and Tarceva as a potential first-line maintenance therapy for advanced non-small lung cancer patients whose disease has not progressed following initial treatment with Avastin in combination with chemotherapy. Results are expected in the first half of next year.