Swiss drug major Roche says that its anaemia drug NeoRecormon has been granted European marketing approval to be used as a once-weekly treatment of the condition in patients with solid cancers receiving chemotherapy.

The expansion of the label on NeoRecormon (epoetin beta) means that patients “will no longer have the burden of three injections per week,” Roche noted and their anaemia treatment can be made more manageable.

This latest approval was based on data from the BRAVE study, involving women with metastatic breast cancer receiving chemotherapy, and the NAUTICA trial, in patients with a wide range of cancer types undergoing chemotherapy.

NeoRecormon, which is sold as Epogin by Roche’s Chugai subsidiary in Japan, is still a big earner but before this latest approval, the firm’s anaemia franchise appeared to be losing momentum, with more attention being devoted to Roche's follow-up once-monthly offering Cera (erythropoietin), which was filed in the USA and Europe last year.

Third-quarter 2006 sales of NeoRecormon reached 535 million Swiss francs, down 5%, but that decline was put down to Japanese price cuts and reimbursement changes offsetting growth in the rest of the world. It still sells well in Europe and this new approval may give turnover a little push.