Genentech (DNA) announced Tuesday that a Food and Drug Administration panel has recommended accelerated approval of the drug Avastin for use in people who have already received treatment for a type of brain cancer.

Genentech, recently acquired by drug maker Roche, said that the FDA's Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously that results in people with previously treated glioblastoma -- a particularly aggressive and difficult to treat type of brain tumor -- were great enough "to be reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit." A decision from the FDA is expected by May 5, Genentech said.

Roche's recently completed -- and notably drawn out -- takeover of Genentech was among a slew of mergers in the drug space of late, including deals between Merck ( MRK) and Schering-Plough ( SGP), and Pfizer ( PFE) and Wyeth ( WYE).

Avastin, already approved to treat breast, lung and colon cancer, was Genentech's top-selling drug in 2008, but it needs new FDA approvals to kickstart growth. With its trio of blockbuster drugs -- Avastin, Rituxan and Herceptin -- it was the No. 1 drug company by oncology sales. Other widely held names in the space include Bristol-Myer Squibb, Amgen, Sanofi Aventis ( SNY) and AstraZeneca ( AZN).

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