European regulators have given a broader approval to Roche’s oral chemotherapy Xeloda for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer.

The European Commission has approved Xeloda (capecitabine) for the disease in combination with any chemotherapy in all lines of treatment with or without the firm’s own Avastin (bevacizumab). The green light was expected given the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use’s positive recommendations for the extended use of Xeloda in December.

Roche quotes Jim Cassidy, chair of medical oncology at the University of Glasgow, as saying that until now, Xeloda has been available to only a few colorectal cancer patients but it is a highly effective oral chemotherapy that reduces hospital treatment time by 160 hours compared to the old standard chemotherapy, 5-FU(5 fluorouracil.

“This approval shows that the EU authorities have endorsed that oral Xeloda can replace iv 5-FU in all colorectal cancer regimens, making cancer treatment regimens easier for patients,” Prof Cassidy concluded. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in Europe will be diagnosed with metastatic colorectal cancer every year.