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"The data are pretty compelling," said Dr. Michael Link, a pediatric cancer specialist at Stanford University who is president of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the group hosting the Chicago conference where the results were being presented.
"It's sort of a smart bomb kind of therapy, a poison delivered to the tumor ... and not a lot of other collateral damage to other organs," he said.
Dr. Louis Weiner, director of Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, said the results strongly suggest T-DM1 improves survival. It delivers more drug directly to tumors with less side effects, "a clear advance," he said.
Denise Davis, 51, a customer service representative at a propane company, was diagnosed three years ago with breast cancer that had spread to her liver and bones. Since February of last year, the Lynchburg, Va., woman has made the two-hour trip to Duke in Durham, N.C., every three weeks to get infusions of T-DM1.
"I call it `Herceptin-plus,'" she said. Scans every six weeks show "everything is still shrinking or stable," she said. "Right now, I'm feeling pretty good about it. The only way I'd feel a little better is if it took care of everything, but I'll take what I can get."
Genentech, part of the Swiss company Roche, plans to seek approval later this year to sell the drug in Europe and the United States. Another company, ImmunoGen Inc., made the technology combining the drugs.
Genentech says the price of T-DM1 has not been determined. Herceptin costs more than $4,000 a month plus whatever doctors charge to infuse it. Herceptin's U.S. patent doesn't expire until 2019.
Cancer conference: http://www.cancer.net/
American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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