Lilly’s Alimta Fails to Extend Survival in Cancer Study

Eli Lilly & Co. (LLY) said its cancer drug Alimta didn’t extend overall survival when combined with Roche Holding AG (ROG)’s Avastin in patients with a form of lung tumor.

The combination, which was in the final stage of testing required to get U.S. approval, did delay the progression of tumors, Indianapolis-based Lilly said today in a statement. The company will present the full results tomorrow at a medical meeting in Chicago.

The study was intended to look at whether adding Alimta to Avastin provided an additional benefit for patients with nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer. Lilly is trying to expand use of Alimta, which had $2.5 billion in sales last year.

Alimta is the second late-stage testing setback for Lilly in as many weeks. The drugmaker halted testing on Aug. 29 of a schizophrenia treatment after determining it was unlikely to provide a benefit. The company needs to get new products to the market and expand sales of existing products to offset the potential loss of $7 billion in revenue to generic competition over the next five years.

Lilly rose 2.2 percent to $46.81 at the close of New York trading.

In the study, called Pointbreak, patients were given either Alimta combined with Avastin and the generic drug carboplatin or a combination of Avastin with the generic paclitaxel. The Alimta patients were then given Alimta plus Avastin as a follow-up therapy while the other group of patients received just Avastin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shannon Pettypiece in New York at spettypiece@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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