UPDATE 1-Bayer starts Phase III Nexavar breast-cancer trial

Thu Feb 24, 2011 3:49am EST

* Breast-cancer tests enter late-stage with RESILIENCE trial

* Decision based on 2009 results of Phase II trial

* Bayer shares unchanged

(Adds details, background)

FRANKFURT, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Bayer (BAYGn.DE) and Onyx Pharmaceuticals ONXX.O have started recruiting breast-cancer patients to start the third and last stage of testing their Nexavar pill, a key pipeline drug for both drugmakers.

The Phase III trial dubbed RESILIENCE will compare women receiving anti-cancer drug Nexavar in combination with standard chemotherapy Xeloda to a control group receiving Xeloda and a placebo only.

The trial participants are suffering from breast cancer that has started spreading to other parts of the body.

In July 2009, Bayer and partner Onyx said that in a Phase II study, Nexavar showed promise in treating breast tumours, the second-most common form of cancer, sending Onyx shares soaring.

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

Nexavar, already approved to treat kidney and liver tumours in Europe, Asia and North America, is one of Bayer's most promising new drugs, and Bayer has said it expects the drug to generate combined annual sales of more than 2 billion euros

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger)