Roche has received yet another approval this morning from regulators in the USA for its oncology blockbuster Avastin.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Avastin (bevacizumab) plus interferon alpha for people with metastatic renal cell carcinoma, the most common type of kidney cancer. The approval is based on data from a Phase III study (Avoren) which showed that patients who received the Avastin combo lived nearly twice as long without their disease getting worse compared to those on interferon alpha alone – 10.2 months versus 5.4 months. Tumour size decreased in 30% of patients compared to 12% for those who received interferon alpha alone.

William Burns, head of Roche's pharmaceuticals division, noted that the drug has now been approved for five different types of cancer in the USA. He added that the latest approval “underscores our belief in the important clinical benefits that Avastin delivers as we push forward with our ongoing research programmes in more than 30 tumour types".

Avastin has been on the market in Europe since the end of 2007 for the first-line treatment of patients with advanced and/or metastatic renal cell cancer in combination with interferon alpha.

The approval, which was expected, has gone down well with analysts and Bank Vontobel analyst Silvia Schanz issued a research note saying that this latest thumbs-up could increase revenues by 300-500 million Swiss francs. For the first half of the year, Avastin sales reached 3.09 billion francs, a rise of 29% on the previous year.