Roche has presented fresh data which the company says “confirms Herceptin’s promise of extra years of living cancer free”.

The Breast International Group, in collaboration with Roche, have presented data from the ongoing 5,000-patient HERA study at the Primary Therapy in Early Breast Cancer conference in St Gallen, Switzerland. These show that women with HER2 positive early breast cancer continue to benefit from Herceptin (trastuzumab) “several years after treatment completion and as a result enjoy a longer life, disease free”.

The HERA (HERceptin Adjuvant) study showed that women treated with Herceptin had a 25% reduction in the risk of their cancer coming back compared to women who did not receive the drug. After four years of medical observation, almost 90% of the Herceptin-treated women were still alive and the analysis confirmed the long-term safety profile of the drug, with good cardiac safety and tolerability maintained throughout the four-year follow-up period.

William Burns, chief executive of Roche’s pharmaceuticals division, claimed that “these important long-term results from the HERA trial reinforce that women with this aggressive type of cancer have the best chance of cure with Herceptin”. HERA is the first of the four large Herceptin studies in early HER2 positive breast cancer and final results are expected in 2011.