* Says interim analysis showed trial would not meet main goal
* Expects to report data from other trials in H2
* Shares down as much as 41 pct
By Anand Basu
Jan 27 (Reuters) - Infinity Pharmaceuticals pulled the plug on a mid-stage trial of its experimental pancreatic cancer drug as it failed to show benefit over a placebo, wiping off over 41 percent of its market value.
Data from a preliminary analysis showed that patients receiving placebo along with an anti-cancer chemotherapy drug lived longer than patients who received the Infinity drug saridegib in combination with chemotherapy.
“It was a risky program to begin with and metastatic pancreatic cancer is an extremely tricky indication and I can only count failures in the past,” said ThinkEquity analyst Mani Mohindru.
Pancreatic cancer has proven to be a tough nut to crack for even major drugmakers. In 2009, Pfizer ended its late-stage trial of axitinib, followed soon after by Sanofi-Aventis and Regeneron’s decision to drop their late-stage trial of aflibercept for the same indication.
World-wide more than 266,000 people die of pancreatic cancer every year, which to date has been treated with standard chemotherapy gemcitabine.
“I am surprised (by the trial result), given the data they released last week from their Phase 1 trial,” Mohindru said.
“There was nothing to suggest that the combination of gemcitabine and saridegib was bad.”
Infinity said it stopped the current trial because the drug, which it is developing in partnership with privately held Purdue Pharma and its affiliate Mundipharma, would not meet its main goal.
The mid-stage trial was testing 122 patients with previously untreated, metastatic pancreatic cancer.
“I don’t think the drug is dead, but I certainly think that there is no reason to continue to pursue in pancreatic cancer,” Rodman & Renshaw analyst Michael King said.
Infinity is testing saridegib in mid-stage trials as a single agent therapy in myelofibrosis, a rare bone marrow disorder, and a life-threatening cancer of the cartilage.
“We continue to believe in the therapeutic potential of Hedgehog pathway inhibition,” the company said.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company expects to report data from the myelofibrosis mid-stage trial in the second half of 2012.
However, both analysts have not assigned any value to these two indications while calculating their price targets.
Infinity shares are worth about $5 based on the cash and value of other programs, King said.
The company is also developing another drug, retaspimycin hydrochloride, for non-small cell lung cancer. The drug is in mid-stage trial.
The stock was down 40 percent at $5.99 — its lowest in four months — in morning trade on Friday on the Nasdaq. The stock, which had touched a low of $5.85 earlier in the session, was the top percentage loser on the exchange. About 859,000 shares changed hands by 1615 GMT, more than 14 times their normal volume.