Bayer says Nexavar-Tarceva trial unsuccessful

Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:58am EDT

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(Reuters) - The combination of cancer tablets Tarceva and Nexavar to treat patients with liver cancer failed to improve overall survival rates compared with standard Nexavar treatment in a late-stage Phase III trial, drug companies involved said on Monday.

Analysts at brokerage Cheuvreux said the news was a small negative for Bayer AG , the lead partner in the trial, but they left peak sales forecasts for Nexavar unchanged at 971 million euros ($1.18 billion) in 2019.

Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc jointly produce Nexavar, while Tarceva -- which is used for treating lung cancer -- is sold by Astellas Pharma Inc and Genentech, a unit of Roche Holding AG.

The trial was conducted through a partnership of Bayer, Onyx, Astellas and Roche.

A Roche spokesman said that while the Swiss company provided financial support as well as Tarceva for the trial, it did not have a development plan for Tarceva as a liver cancer treatment, either alone or as part of a drug combination.

Details of the study, which enrolled 720 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, will be presented at a scientific meeting later.

(Reporting by Adithya Venkatesan in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler in London; Editing by David Goodman)

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