Pfizer Inc. (PFE) said its Sutent pill will continue to be the standard treatment for renal cell carcinoma after GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) said its competing Votrient drug showed similar effectiveness with fewer side effects.
Patients taking Sutent survived an average of 9.5 months without the disease progressing, compared with 8.4 months for those on Votrient, in a study of 1,100 patients, London-based Glaxo said yesterday. Side effects such as fatigue and skin sores occurred with less frequency for Votrient.
One of the study’s authors yesterday suggested new patients may now view Votrient more favorably than Sutent, which commands about half the U.S. market for renal cancer treatments since gaining approval in 2006 for Pfizer, the world’s largest drugmaker. Still, physicians and patients have experience using Sutent and have learned to manage the side effects, said Robin Wiltshire, head of global medical affairs for New York-based Pfizer’s drug.
“I’m confident that Sutent will remain the standard of care,” Wiltshire said in a phone interview from Vienna after attending the European Society for Medical Oncology’s annual meeting. “Over time, physicians and their patients have really learned good strategies for helping to manage the therapy.”
Severity of side effects can be reduced through methods such as using hand creams for the skin sores, changing diets to manage diarrhea and reducing doses, Wiltshire said.
Sutent had global sales of $1.19 billion in 2011, compared with 100 million pounds ($160 million) for Votrient, which was approved for use in the U.S. in 2009 for advanced renal cell carcinoma.
Renal cell carcinoma is a type of kidney cancer that starts in the lining of the tubes in the kidney.
An estimated 64,770 new cases of kidney cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, and about 13,570 people will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
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