• Source : Press Release
  • Date : 2021-01-11
  • Event type : Marketed
  • Companies : Roche

Imports of Anticancer Drug Avastin Doubles in Recent 5 Years

Roche's Avastin, targeted therapy for various types of cancer that arrived in Korea 15 years ago, has shown strong sales performance in recent years, government data showed.

Avastin's robust sales growth stemmed from its efficacy when used in combination with other anticancer medicines against many types of cancer, including colon and lung cancer.

Imports of Avastin grew by 104 percent in the past five years, and the drug topped the volume of imports among finished medicines in 2019.

According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety's statistics on pharmaceutical products in 2020, Avastin ranked first in sales of imported finished drugs with $90.6 million annual sales in 2019. Avastin's import volume was a 40 percent jump from a year earlier, widening the gap with No. 2 imported drug Viread's $56.6 million.

Lipitor 10mg came next with $49.3 million, followed by Saxenda 6mg with $47.3 million, Marviret with $45.1 million, Zostavax with $44.6 million, Trajenta with $44.2 million, Tagrisso with $43.5 million, Eylea with$38.4 million, and Baraclude 0.5mg with $36.9 million.

Among the top 10 imported drugs in 2019, over half of them suffered a decline in sales. However, imports of Avastin expanded rapidly.

Imports of Avastin steadily grew from $44.2 million in 2015 to $57 million in 2017 and $90.6 million in 2019. During the five years, its sales more than doubled.

Avastin won local approval as a treatment for metastatic direct colorectal cancer in 2005. Although its patent expired 15 years later, its sales continued to grow because it expanded the scope of treatment.

Avastin kept broadening treatment areas and obtained indications for seven types of carcinoma. In recent years, it has proved its effectiveness in combination therapy with anticancer drugs.

Avastin is indicated for metastatic colorectal cancer, metastatic breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, progressive or metastatic renal cell cancer, glioblastoma, epithelial ovarian cancer/fallopian tube cancer/primary peritoneal cancer, and cervical cancer.

Professor Chon Hong-jae of the Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology at CHA Bundang Medical Center attributed Avastin's excellence in combination therapy with immunotherapy to its effect as a vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) inhibitor.

According to Chon, physicians focused much on the effect of VEGF inhibition in cancer treatment in the past, and that was why Avastin came out in the first place.

However, with immunotherapies widely used now, physicians could see that VEGF inhibitors like Avastin made the immune environment much better and increased T cells' transmission power that attacks cancer cells, he explained.

Also, doctors found that VEGF inhibitors helped activate dendritic cells that detect cancer antigens and deliver them to T cells, he said.

Researchers are still discovering more mechanisms of VEGF inhibitors that boost immunotherapies' anticancer effects, Chon added.

“With the new establishment of the first-line standard therapy for liver cancer, the combination of Tecentriq and Avastin has become standard care. Accordingly, Avastin will be used more frequently and play a new role in liver cancer treatment, too,” he said.