A new US government-sponsored clinical trial is set to begin later this year, pitting ImClone’s Erbitux (cetuximab) against Genentech’s Avastin (bevacizumab) in patients with a new colorectal cancer diagnosis, according to Industry reports.

Citing Alan Venook – professor at the University of California at San Francisco, who is to lead the study – Bloomberg expects the trial will comprise three arms, with patients receiving either Avastin, Erbitux, or both products, and will last around four years.

Both Erbitux and Avastin won coveted US Food and Drug Administration clearance back in February last year [[13/02/04b]], [[27/02/04a]]. ImClone’s drug is specifically indicated for the treatment of advanced colorectal cancer, while Avastin was given the green light for the first line treatment of the disease, and is the standard treatment.

ImClone in particular will no doubt be keen to gain a competitive advantage over Genentech’s rival offering after initial sales failed to meet expectations [[22/07/04e]]. It is seen as key to partner Bristol-Myers Squibb’s financial turnaround [[14/09/04a]], and is also being investigated as a possible treatment for non-small cell lung cancer [[08/10/04e]].