Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals stopped a study of their Nexavar lung cancer drug because the med failed to help patients live longer than standard treatment. An independent committee that monitored the trial advised the treatment wouldn't meet the main goal of the test, according to aBayer statement. Nexavar was in the last of three rounds of studies needed for regulatory approval for lung cancer.
The monitoring committee stopped the test, which looked at more than 900 patients with non-small cell lung cancer, after finding a higher mortality rate in patients taking standard chemotherapy coupled with Nexavar then in those taking just standard chemotherapy alone. The drugmakers, however, didn't provide specifics on the deaths.
Nexavar is already approved in more than 30 countries for liver cancer and in more than 60 countries for the treatment of patients with advanced kidney cancer. But an additional indication for lung cancer would push it past the $1 billion sales mark, according to Bloomberg News, and help it compete against Roche and Genentech's Avastin, as well as ImClone's Erbitux.
"Nexavar was an important growth driver and this was the most important indication,'' Markus Metzger, an analyst at Vontobel in Cologne, tells Bloomberg. "The competitors, Erbitux and Avastin, are already waiting in the wings.''