Analysts: Roche's armed antibody will help drive breast cancer drug sales

New breast cancer therapies will earn blockbuster revenue in the years to come. But don't expect these new drugs to dramatically change the life expectancy of women diagnosed with an advanced case.

The clear likelihood that Roche's ($RHHBY) T-DM1--its "armed antibody" developed by Genentech--is headed for an approval encouraged analysts at Decision Resources to project a solid rise in revenue for all breast cancer drugs in the 10 years ahead.  Combined with the newly approved Perjeta, another Roche/Genentech drug, and Afinitor from Novartis ($NVS), the group projects that major market sales to breast cancer will rise from $8.6 billion in 2011 to $10.9 billion in 2018 before that figure levels out through 2021.

"T-DM1 has demonstrated impressive results in later-line treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer and Decision Resources anticipates the agent will be approved in this setting in 2013, and will move into earlier settings through 2021," notes the firm. But despite a tremendous amount of new R&D work in the field, Decision Resources believes that only a handful of new agents will dominate the field.

"Breast cancer drug development is a hive of activity but despite the busy pipeline, we forecast the uptake of just three novel agents in this market through 2021," said Decision Resources Analyst Amy Duval in a statement. "Two of these agents will penetrate only the HER2-positive market segment, which will continue to be dominated by Roche. Although HER2-positive disease accounts for less than 25 percent of breast cancer cases, in 2011 it earned 55 percent of the breast cancer market and this is set to rise further to 65 percent in 2021."

The bottom line for women with an advanced case of breast cancer, adds Decision Resources, is that the current three years of mean life expectancy will be extended by six months by 2021. That's a significant 20% improvement, though it may not be viewed that way by many patients.

- here's the press release