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Pfizer’s cut-price version of Avastin wins EU panel greenlight

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), is seen in London, Britain, April 25, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) – A panel of European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Friday recommended approval for Pfizer Inc’s Zirabev, a cheaper version to Roche Holding AG’s leading cancer drug Avastin.

Pfizer’s Zirabev is the second cancer biosimilar from the drugmaker to receive a positive opinion from the European advisory panel this year.

Roche has been facing declining sales for its three leading cancer drugs – Avastin, Herceptin, Rituxan – due to severe competition from low-cost versions called biosimilars.

The Swiss-based drugmaker has stepped up cost cuts in an efficiency drive earlier this year to cushion the blow.

In September 2017, Amgen Inc’s biosimilar version of Avastin was approved in the United States to treat certain types of colorectal, lung, brain, kidney and cervical cancers.

While final approvals are given by the EMA, it generally follows the panel’s recommendation and might endorse them within a couple of months.

Reporting by Manogna Maddipatla and Sangameswaran S in Bengaluru; Editing by James Emmanuel

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