This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

ASCO '11: Roche, Bristol Melanoma Drugs Shine

Stocks in this article: RHHBY.PK BMY

CHICAGO ( TheStreet) -- Patients with advanced melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer, are living longer following treatment with two new drugs developed separately by Roche (RHHBY) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY), researchers reported Sunday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting.

While neither drug provides melanoma patients with a cure, the results from phase III studies of Roche's vemurafenib and Bristol's Yervoy are being heralded at this year's ASCO meeting as a triumph of science over a deadly cancer that has long alluded the best efforts of researchers.

"The studies presented today highlight tremendous advances in the treatment of metastatic melanoma, said Dr. Lynn Schuchter, a University of Pennsylvania cancer expert. "Until recently, we've had limited options for our patients, and little hope for long-term survival. In the past two years, we've seen remarkable progress with immunotherapy, and now, a promising targeted therapy."

Bristol's Yervoy was approved earlier this year and Roche's vemurafenib is still under regulatory review, but both drugs could generate $1 billion or more in sales, analysts say.

Roche's vemurafenib is noteworthy in that it is the first drug developed specifically to target and block a mutation known as V600E in the BRAF gene. This mutation is found in approximately half of all melanoma tumors.

The phase III study compared the efficacy of vemurafenib to the chemotherapy drug dacarbazine in 675 patients with previously untreated advanced, metastatic melanoma. All patients in the study had the defective mutation in the BRAF gene.

At a planned interim analysis, vemurafenib-treated patients had a 63% reduction in risk of death compared to those receiving dacarbazine. Patients who received vemurafenib also had a 74% reduction in the risk of tumor progression or death compared to dacarbazine. All results were statistically significant in favor of vemurafenib.

Extending survival is the gold standard for cancer drug clinical trials but in this study, vemurafenib also shrank more tumors than dacarbazine -- with response rates of 48.4% compared to 5.5%.

"This is really a huge step toward personalized care in melanoma," said Dr. Paul Chapman, a melanoma expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York and the lead investigator in the vemurafenib study.

1 of 3

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

Jim Cramer's protégé, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,164.95 -251.90 -1.45%
S&P 500 1,994.99 -26.26 -1.30%
NASDAQ 4,635.24 -48.1670 -1.03%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs