'GA101 combined with chemotherapy helped CLL patients live longer without their disease progressing than chemotherapy alone, the Basel, Switzerland-based drugmaker said in an e- mailed statement today. The medicine is a partnership with U.S. biotechnology company Biogen Idec Inc.
Still to come is data comparing GA101 directly with Rituxan. Roche has said it aims to make the new drug the successor to the older medicine in a bid to defend sales from biosimilar competitors after its patent expires. Roche faces a challenge, as there may be a gap between when Roche’s patents start to expire next year and the date that the drugmaker can start selling GA101 to the bigger potential patient groups.
Roche also asked European regulators in December to approve a subcutaneously administered version of Rituxan, which would be a faster way to give patients the drug and thus muster another potential defense against biosimilar copies.'