NEW YORK Jan 30 Pfizer Inc (PFE.N), in its
latest research setback, said on Friday it stopped a late stage
study of an experimental drug to treat advanced pancreatic
cancer after an independent monitoring board found no evidence
that it prolongs survival.
The drug, axitinib, is still being studied for kidney
cancer in late stage clinical trials, and is in mid-stage
trials for non-small cell lung cancer, colon cancer and other
Axitinib had shown promise against notoriously tough to
treat advanced pancreatic cancer in combination with
chemotherapy in mid-stage trials, and the company decided to
proceed with larger, more expensive Phase III trials.
"These results were disappointing, given the trend toward
prolonged survival seen in a Phase II study of axitinib in this
extremely difficult-to-treat patient population," Mace
Rothenberg, head of Pfizer's oncology business unit, said in a
The company said it has notified all clinical trial
investigators involved in the study and regulatory agencies of
the findings and recommends patients discontinue treatment with
Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, said it would try to
find other compounds in its developmental pipeline that can be
tested against pancreatic cancer, which has few treatment
But the company has endured a long list of research
disappointments in recent years as it struggles to find a way
to replace the cholesterol fighter Lipitor before the more than
$12 billion a year drug goes off patent in late 2011.
The dearth of important new medicines coming out of its
research labs is one of the primary reasons Pfizer decided to
buy smaller rival Wyeth for $68 billion.
Its shares, which closed down 3.5 percent at $14.48 on
Friday, are hovering just above a 12-year low.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Toni Reinhold)