Celgene Corp said on Tuesday that in a late-stage clinical trial, patients with metastatic melanoma who took its drug Abraxane lived for a longer period without getting worse than those who received the chemotherapy dacarbazine.
Abraxane is currently approved to treat patients with breast cancer who have failed to respond to other treatments. Celgene is hoping to win approval to market it for other types of cancer, including pancreatic cancer and melanoma, which, left untreated, is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Celgene did not release details of the magnitude of the benefit in the latest trial, and investment analysts said the drug will probably need to show that it lengthens life in a meaningful way if it is to be competitive.
If approved, the drug would compete with products such as Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy, known also as ipilimumab, and Roche Holding AG's Zelboraf, or vemurafenib.
"We view today's news as an upside surprise, given very low expectations for Abraxane in this indication," Geoff Meacham, an analyst at J.P. Morgan, said in a research note.
About 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year globally, the company said, citing data from the World Health Organization.
(Additional reporting by Balaji Sridharan in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal and Maureen Bavdek)