New global survey demonstrates an increasing demand for new treatments for non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

December 10, 2001

10 December 2001, 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology, Orlando, US - In a survey of 230 physicians from around the world, the majority interviewed (63%) have seen an increase in the last five years in the number of patients suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL). The average reported increase in cases of NHL, a form of cancer of the immune system, was 13%.

The survey also showed that 9 out of 10 physicians (91%) who prescribe MabThera® (rituximab) for the treatment of this increasingly common form of cancer, said there is a significant improvement in their patients' quality of life.

The survey found that physicians are increasingly prescribing MabThera for the treatment of NHL. Of those who have prescribed MabThera, 92% said their usage increased over the last three years and, of these, over half (62%) said their increased prescribing of MabThera in combination with chemotherapy is based on proven efficacy. This reflects clinical studies that have demonstrated that MabThera can increase survival when combined with conventional chemotherapy without additional toxicity, or compromising tolerability.1

Approximately 1.5 million people around the world are affected by NHL, which is the third fastest growing form of cancer after skin melanoma and lung cancer.2

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is one of the world's leading research-oriented healthcare groups in the fields of pharmaceuticals, diagnostics and vitamins. Roche's innovative products and services address needs for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases, thus enhancing well-being and quality of life.

Roche is a world leader in oncology. Its franchise includes three drugs with survival benefit: MabThera (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma), Xeloda (colorectal cancer, breast cancer), and Herceptin (breast cancer), It also includes NeoRecormon (anaemia in various cancer settings), Roferon-A (leukaemia, Kaposi's sarcoma, malignant melanoma, renal cell carcinoma), Neupogen (neutropenia) and Kytril (chemotherapy and radiotherapy-induced nausea).
Roche Oncology has four research sites (two in the US, Germany and Japan) and four HQ Development sites (two in the US, UK and Switzerland).

The survey was conducted by The Ketchum Research and Measurement Department on behalf of Roche.


1. Czuczman MS, Grillo-Lopez AJ, White CA, et al. Treatment of patients with low-grade B-cell lymphoma with the combination of chimeric anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody and CHOP chemotherapy. J Clin Oncol 1999; 17: 268-276

2. World Health Report 2000, World Health Organization,

Notes to Editors:

1. Lymphomas generally are classified into two equal groups: one half are indolent (low grade) lymphomas while the remaining are aggressive (intermediate/high grade). Intermediate/high grade lymphomas spread rapidly, and left untreated, can be fatal within six months to two years.

2. MabThera was co-developed by Roche, Genentech and IDEC Pharmaceuticals. It was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November 1997 and is marketed in the US under the trade name Rituxan by Genentech and IDEC. MabThera received European approval (for relapsed or chemoresistant low grade (indolent) or follicular non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.) in June 1998. MabThera is a monoclonal antibody that works by binding to a particular protein (the CD20 antigen) on the surface of normal and malignant B-cells. It then recruits the body's natural defences to attack and kill the marked B-cells. Stem cells present in the bone marrow lack the CD20 antigen, allowing healthy B-cells to regenerate after treatment and return to normal levels within several months

3. In October 2001 European health authorities gave a positive opinion recommending MabThera be approved for the treatment of aggressive NHL. The EU authorities are expected to announce their decision in early 2002.

For further information please contact:

Carrie Deverell Rina Amin Roche Ketchum Tel: +41 61 688 9848 Tel: +44 20 7611 3513 Mobile: +41 795 069 940

Ketchum UK

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