Alimta, Nexavar look for ASCO boost

As always, the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual meeting is spawning tons of drug news. Only this year, the news is coming ahead of the conference itself, because ASCO released all the studies on the program in one fell swoop last night. Wall Street analysts were planning all-night cram sessions to tease the news out of those reams of data. Here are three big items about already-approved drugs:

  • Eli Lilly's Alimta delayed lung cancer growth when used soon after a first round of chemotherapy. The study could support broader use of Alimta, the Wall Street Journal reports. Currently, patients do a round of chemo, then stop drug therapy until the cancer grows again, then start a second-line drug like Alimta. The new data suggests Alimta could be used right after that first round to keep tumors at bay.
  • Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals' Nexavar boosted overall survival by 47.3 percent in patients with advanced liver cancer compared with placebo. The study comprised 226 Asian patients who'd never received systemic therapy for their cancer. Overall survival was 6.5 months on Nexavar compared with 4.2 months on placebo.
  • Combination therapy with Herceptin and Tykerb delayed the worsening of advanced breast cancer in women who'd stopped responding to other treatments. Patients using the combo survived 12 weeks without their cancer advancing, compared with eight weeks on Tykerb alone. Herceptin is marketed by Genentech and Roche, Tykerb by GlaxoSmithKline.

- see the WSJ's Alimta piece
- check out the Nexavar release
- read the Associated Press combo story

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