Xeloda, or capecitabine, developed by Roche, of Basel, Switzerland, is claimed as the first oral chemotherapy for the condition.
The European Commission granted marketing approval for the drug after studying the results of two Phase III trials which involved more than 1,200 patients worldwide.
Professor Jim Cassidy, Professor of Oncology at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Scotland, UK, said, "Xeloda represents a significant step forward in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer, one of the harshest and most debilitating forms of cancer.
"Xeloda was much kinder to patients with substantially fewer complications such as mouth ulcers, diarrhoea, and severe infections compared to standard IV bolus 5-FU/LV.
"In addition, as Xeloda is given as tablets, it reduces the number of times patients need to attend hospital in comparison to IV therapy, allowing patients more time with their family at home."
|Patients experiencing tumour shrinkage after treatment:|
IV bolus 5-FU/LV: 17%
In the trials 26% of patients on Xeloda experienced tumour shrinkage, compared with 17% of those receiving the standard treatment, intravenous bolus of 5-FU/LV.
The drug has already been approved for use in Canada, Australia, and Switzerland.
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