Glaxo CEO Tells CNBC: Breast Cancer Drug Will Be Ready In Days

J.P. Garnier, GlaxoSmithKline's chief executive officer, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" Wednesday that he expects to make the company's new drug for advanced breast cancer available to U.S. patients "within a few days."

U.S. health regulators have approved the company's pill, Tykerb, the company announced Tuesday.

"It's a great day for breast cancer patients who can now have access to one more alternative," Garnier said. "If you take Tykerb, your probability of going into remission is improved by 43%."

Garnier said GlaxoSmithKline will provide the drug free "for anyone who has insurance problems, even people who earn over $60,000 per year."

Some analysts expect Glaxo's drug to bring in yearly sales of about $1.35 billion, by 2010. If it were to win approval for more uses, that figure could jump as high as $4 billion a year, according to some estimates.

"Tykerb is an oral medicine -- a pill you take once a day -- and that's very differnt from alternative therapies that force the patient to go back to the hosptial and sit in a chair for two hours for IV infusion," he said.

The drug was cleared for once-daily use in combination with Roche Holding'soral chemotherapy drug Xeloda, or capecitabine, Glaxo said.

Tykerb's approval is expected to launch what Glaxo hopes will be a new era for its oncology business, which is looking to win U.S. clearance for four other cancer medications by 2010.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug, also known as lapatinib, for patients with HER-2 positive breast cancer who no longer respond to Roche and Genentech rival product, Herceptin.

Patients should have also tried anthracycline and taxane chemotherapy drugs such as Sanofi-Aventis's, Taxotere, or Bristol-Myers Squibb's, Taxol, the agency added.

Those with the HER-2 positive disease face a more aggressive cancer in which the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 is over-expressed.