Lilly cancer drug fares well in late-stage study

Eli Lilly and Co. said Friday its potential colorectal cancer drug Cyramza helped patients on chemotherapy with advanced cases of the disease survive longer than patients on chemotherapy alone.

The Indianapolis-based company said patients treated with Cyramza and chemotherapy in late-stage research had statistically significant improvements in overall survival compared to those who received the chemotherapy and a placebo. But the drugmaker did not detail the difference in improvements. All patients had already tried another treatment regimen before the study.

Late-stage research is the last phase of clinical study before a drugmaker submits its product to regulators for approval. Lilly said it expects to do that in the first half of next year.

The Food and Drug Administration has already approved the drug, also known as ramucirumab, to treat patients with a type of advanced stomach cancer or a cancer that forms where the esophagus joins the stomach. The drug essentially works by slowing the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors.

Lilly has been touting its pipeline of drugs under development as a way to make up for revenue it is losing due to the expirations of patents protecting key products like the antidepressant Cymbalta.

Shares of Lilly climbed 12 cents, to $65.30 each, Friday morning, while broader trading indexes slipped after markets opened. The stock had already climbed 28 percent so far this year, as of Thursday's close.

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