Novartis’ breast cancer drug, Femara (letrozole), is more effective than the current standard treatment, tamoxifen, in reducing the overall risk of breast cancer recurrence after diagnosis and surgery, according to new data from the Swiss drug giant. The firm says it hopes to file for approval in the post-surgery setting with various global regulatory authorities towards the middle of 2005.

The 26-month trial – known as BIG 1-98 – included over 8,000 postmenopausal women with early breast cancer and found a significant 19% reduction in risk of recurrence, and a 27% reeduction in the risk that the cancer would spread to other parts of the body, versus tamoxifen. These positive data complement those of the landmark MA-17 trial, which showed Femara reduced the risk of overall recurrence of breast cancer by 43% compared to placebo in women who had already been treated with tamoxifen [[10/10/03b]].

It is already one of Novartis’ stalwart performers, with 2004 sales surging some 70% ahead to $386 million dollars [[21/01/05a]].