March 25, 2014 / 1:40 PM / 3 years ago

Pfizer lung cancer drug beats chemo for previously untreated patients

March 25 (Reuters) - Pfizer Inc's Xalkori delayed progression of lung cancer longer than chemotherapy in patients who had never previously been treated for the disease, according to results of a late-stage study released on Tuesday.

The medicine, which received U.S. approval in 2011 for lung cancer patients who have a specific gene mutation, had shown in a previous Phase III trial that it significantly delayed disease progression among those who have already undergone chemotherapy for non-small-cell lung cancer, the most common form of the illness.

The drug is used among patients who have a mutation in the so-called ALK gene, as determined by an approved diagnostic test. The mutation only occurs in a small percentage of patients with lung cancer, but makes them good candidates for treatment with Xalkori.

Xalkori, whose chemical name is crizotinib, had global sales of $89 million in the fourth quarter. Pfizer is also developing an array of other cancer medicines that work through new mechanisms, with the aim of becoming a major player in the oncology field.

Pfizer shares were up 0.6 percent at $31.68 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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