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Pfizer Drug Fails to Beat Novartis’s Gleevec in Trial

Pfizer Inc.’s drug for leukemia wasn’t better than Novartis AG’s treatment Gleevec after a year, a study found.

The Pfizer drug, bosutinib, didn’t cut the amount of a tell-tale protein of the cancer in the blood better than Gleevec, New York-based Pfizer said in a statement today.

Bosutinib treats chronic myeloid leukemia, a slow-progressing cancer that causes bone marrow to produce too many white cells. The study was the third of three stages of testing usually required by the U.S. for regulatory approval.

The study followed 502 people, who previously hadn’t been treated, who received either Gleevec or bosutinib for a year. The trial is continuing.

Fewer patients who took bosutinib progressed to an advanced phase of the disease, and fewer died, according to the study. Almost 40 percent of people treated with bosutinib experienced a major molecular response, meaning that markers of bad blood cells were reduced at least 1,000-fold. That compares with 26 percent of people treated with Gleevec.

Pfizer said on Dec. 3 that it planned to submit bosutinib for regulatory approval in 2011.

Pfizer shares rose 9 cents to $16.81 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading at 4 p.m.

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