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Lilly stops development on cancer drug after failed study

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Eli Lilly and Co. halted development of an experimental cancer drug after the medicine failed to lengthen survival for certain lymphoma patients in a study.

The decision will result in a charge of $30 million in the second quarter, Indianapolis-based Lilly said in a statement Friday. The drug, enzastaurin, was in the most advanced stage of testing and had been expected to generate $260 million in annual sales by 2018, according to Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst with ISI Group.

Lilly said in April it was expecting to seek U.S. regulatory approval this year for the drug to prevent the relapse of diffuse large b-cell lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. The setback leaves Lilly with four treatments it may be able to bring to market next year. The company needs new drugs to help offset the loss of patent protection later this year on its top-selling product, Cymbalta for depression.

“We are disappointed in the results that we’re announcing today,” said Richard Gaynor, vice president of product development and medical affairs for Lilly’s cancer unit, in the statement. “However, our oncology pipeline is still one of the most robust across the industry.”

Lilly shares were up 20 cents early Friday, to $54.76 each. The stock had gained 32 percent in the 12 months through Thursday.
 

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