Bayer, Onyx drug impresses in breast cancer study

Mon Sep 21, 2009 6:27am EDT

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* 74 pct improvement in progression-free survival - analyst

* Analyst cites abstract from European cancer meeting

LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Bayer BAYG.DE and Onyx Pharmaceuticals's ONXX.O cancer pill Nexavar has demonstrated impressive results in treating breast tumours, brokerage Baird said on Monday, citing an abstract from a medical congress.

Nexavar, when combined with standard chemotherapy agent Xeloda, helped keep tumours in check for longer than in a control group of patients receiving Xeloda only in the Phase II study.

Patients given Nexavar plus Xeloda had a 74 percent improvement in the time they lived without their disease progressing.

The new drug combination delayed progression by 6.4 months compared to 4.1 months for Xeloda alone -- a result which analyst Christopher Raymond said in a note was "quite striking".

"These data compare quite favorably to other trials in this setting," he said. "While filing on this trial alone may still be a long shot, we do now see opportunity for near-term off-label use."

Xeloda is sold by Switzerland's Roche (ROG.VX).

Bayer and Onyx had first announced in July that Nexavar was promising in breast cancer, but detailed clinical results are only being presented on Wednesday at the ECCO-ESMO cancer congress in Berlin.

Nexavar is one of Bayer's most promising drugs, along with anti-blood clotting pill Xarelto. It is sold as a liver and kidney cancer treatment in more than 70 countries and Bayer is also pursuing approvals for use against lung tumours.

The German drugmaker aims to generate worldwide sales of more than 2 billion euros ($2.9 billion) a year from the drug.

Bayer and U.S. biotech company Onyx are also testing Nexavar in further ongoing breast cancer studies. (Editing by Rupert Winchester)

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