* 28 pct reduction in the risk of progression or death
* 6 deaths due to lung disorders in ridaforolimus group
CHICAGO, June 6 An experimental drug developed
by Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) and Ariad Pharmaceuticals Inc
ARIA.O reduced by 28 percent the risk of disease progression
or death for patients with advanced sarcoma in a pivotal
The oral drug, ridaforolimus, was tested as maintenance
therapy in patients with metastatic soft-tissue or bone
sarcomas who had a favorable response to chemotherapy.
The companies announced in January that the 711-patient
trial had met its goal. Full results were presented here on
Monday at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical
An independent review committee said the median
progression-free survival was 17.7 weeks for ridaforolimus
patients, compared with 14.6 weeks for the placebo group.
At the most recent data cut-off, median overall survival
for treated patients was 21.4 months, compared to 19.2 months
for the placebo group.
The most common side effects included low blood platelet
levels, mouth sores, and anemia.
There were six deaths (1.8 percent) due to pulmonary
disorders in the ridaforolimus treatment group and no deaths
due to pulmonary disorders in the placebo group.
Ridaforolimus is designed to block a protein called mTOR,
which acts as a central regulator of cancer cell survival and
Merck plans to submit a marketing application for
ridaforolimus to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the
European Union this year.
(Reporting by Deena Beasley; editing by Gunna Dickson)