* 2-month benefit for progression free survival in 2nd-line
* Vectibix is challenger for colon cancer drug Erbitux
BERLIN, Sept 22 Amgen's (AMGN.O) colon cancer
drug Vectibix helped patients live longer without their disease
progressing when used as a second-line treatment, researchers
told Europe's top cancer meeting on Tuesday.
Adding Vectibix to chemotherapy significantly improved
progression-free survival in patients with an unmutated form of
a gene by two months to 5.9 months compared to 3.9 months for
those on chemotherapy only.
The study, a Phase III trial known as '181, showed there was
no significant difference in overall survival but there was a
greater than a three-fold improvement in the tumour response
rate in patients on Vectibix -- 35 percent versus 10 percent.
"This a very, very high percentage in a population that has
already been treated with chemotherapy," said Marc Peeters of
the University Hospital Ghent, the study's principal
Amgen is also presenting data from a study looking at
Vectibix as a first-line treatment -- an indication that drug
companies are keen to develop in order present such medicines as
not just a last resort.
An abstract made available at the ECCO-ESMO cancer congress
on Monday from a study known as PRIME showed patients on
Vectibix had a 1.6-month benefit for progression-free survival
when given the drug as a first-line therapy. [ID:nLL733290]
Erbitux, discovered by ImClone which is now part of Eli
Lilly (LLY.N) and is sold by Merck KGaA (MRCG.DE) and
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY.N), currently dominates the so-called
anti-EGFR market. It had 2008 sales of $1.6 billion -- 10 times
more than Amgen's (AMGN.O) Vectibix.
But Amgen hopes to redress this imbalance by showing its
drug is similarly effective, while offering dosing advantages.
Both drugs have recently been found to work only in the
60-65 percent of patients whose tumours contain the normal, or
wild-type, version of a gene known as KRAS.
(Reporting by Ben Hirschler and Kate Kelland; Editing by Dan