Antisoma Adds to Late-Stage Trial Failures

The late-stage drug failures are piling up this month. Today’s news comes from Antisoma and Novartis, which have halted a Phase III trials of ASA404 after it showed no hope of improving the length of survival in patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Novartis shelled out a $75 million upfront payment for the rights to the drug in 2007, and Antisoma was promised nearly a billion dollars more if it reached the market. Novartis picked it up after Roche rejected the drug, licensed through a broad agreement with the British biotech in 2002. There doesn’t seem to be a way forward for ASA404, a small molecule that tried to cut off blood flow to tumors in a more circuitous way then antibodies like Avastin, which block blood vessel growth factors. Antisoma’s shares have already lost over 65% of their value today. Antisoma’s news is the latest in a string of setbacks this month for drugs in mid- to late-stage development. Here’s a little refresher: --Pfizer stopped a Phase III trial of figitumumab, being tested to treat lung cancer, and said Sutent, already approved for treating gastrointestinal stromal tumors, had failed in two, Phase III studies in breast cancer. --AstraZeneca said Recentin, which inhibits all three vascular endothelial growth factor receptors, did not do better than Avastin in a Phase II/III trial in colon cancer patients. --Medivation shares cratered after Dimebon, an Alzheimer’s drug partnered with Pfizer, seemed to do worse than placebo in a Phase III trial. --Roche and Biogen Idec put on hold its development program for ocrelizumab, in studies to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, after a safety board said the risks seemed to outweigh the benefits. --Genmab’s stock tanked after reporting zalutumumab did not show enough improvement in survival in patients with head and neck cancer in a Phase III trial. --Actelion’s bosentan, a dual endothelin receptor antagonist, failed in a Phase III trial in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis Have I missed any? Post them in the comments! Update! GenVec said this evening that it was discontinuing a Phase III of TNFerade in patients with pancreatic cancer.

Author: Lisa Jarvis

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