Health Care and Eli Lilly and Co. and Health Care Businesses and Health Care & Life Sciences and Health Care & Insurance

Lilly’s Alimta fails to extend survival in lung cancer study

September 6, 2012

Eli Lilly and Co. said Thursday that its cancer drug Alimta didn’t extend overall survival when combined with Roche Holding AG’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 in a prepared statement. The company will present the full results Friday 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 shares were up 1.5 percent Thursday afternoon, to $46.49 each.

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.

 

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