Roche begins agency search for cancer drug

Roche is set to launch an agency review for its oncology drug MabThera.

The company has approached several UK healthcare PR specialists with a request for information, ahead of putting together a shortlist to pitch for the brief for the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment.

It is understood that Amy Brice, international comms leader for the oncology arm of Roche, is overseeing the pitch process. It is unclear whether incumbent Ketchum will repitch for the account.

MabThera sits within the Roche portfolio of oncology brands alongside cancer care medication such as Avastin, Herceptin, Xeloda and Tarceva.

The Roche Group is a provider of cancer care medication including anti-cancer treatments, supportive care products and diagnostics.

It also has a wide portfolio of tumour markers as well as a range of molecular oncology tests.

The MabThera drug is harvested from Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells in suspension and is supplied as sterile, clear, preservative-free liquid prepared for intravenous treatment.

MabThera competes in an increasingly crowded product category. Fellow pharma companies jostling for market share include Novartis, with its lymphoma drug Lucatumumab, and several new products about to be introduced into the sector, including a tobacco-based vaccine from Swiss pharmaceutical company Bayer, which is currently undergoing human trials.

Roche was not available for comment regarding the review.

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