Roche has received a boost with the news that Xeloda, in combination with oxaliplatin has been shown to be effective in early colon cancer.

Results from a Phase III study demonstrated that colon cancer patients on oral Xeloda (capecitabine) combined with intravenous oxaliplatin, marketed as Eloxatin by Sanofi-Aventis, immediately after surgery, lived disease-free for longer compared to those on the commonly-used chemotherapy combination 5-fluorouracil/leucovorin. The study included 1,886 patients and complete data will presented at upcoming scientific meetings.

William Burns, head of Roche’s pharmaceuticals division, noted that while Xeloda is already approved for the treatment of early-stage colon cancer as monotherapy, doctors will now be able to offer their patients the drug as a combination chemotherapy. This is an important development “as colon cancer, if caught early enough, can be cured”, he added.

Roche added that it now plans to file the data with health authorities to extend the current label for Xeloda. The drug, which is also approved for pancreatic, breast and stomach cancers, had first-quarter sales of 296 million Swiss francs.