Lilly: Alimta improves survival in lung cancer

September 21, 2009

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Co. announced today that a clinical trial showed lung cancer patients treated with Lilly drug Alimta lived about three months longer than those who received the best available care.

Alimta is used as a "maintenance therapy" for patients whose disease has not progressed after chemotherapy. In a study involving 663 patients, Lilly said patients treated with Alimta and best available care lived for an average of 13.4 months. Those treated with best care and a placebo lived for an average of 10.6 months.

The company said patients with non-squamous tumors, or the kind that Alimta is approved to treat, lived for 15.5 months, compared to 10.3 months for patients in the placebo group. Non-squamous tumors make up about 70 percent of all lung cancers. Patients who had squamous tumors lived an average of 9.9 months if they were treated with Alimta, and 10.8 months if they were not.

Results of the study were published in The Lancet, a British medical journal.

Alimta is an injection that is approved as a primary treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer, in combination with chemotherapy, or on its own as a secondary treatment for the disease. It is also approved as a treatment for mesothelioma.