Erbitux doesn't meet survival time goal

Another skirmish in the ongoing cancer-drug competition between upstart Erbitux and heavyweight Avastin. ImClone Systems announced today that colon cancer patients on Erbitux survived 24.9 months, compared with 21 months on chemo alone--provided that the patients lacked the K-Ras gene mutation. Those with the mutated gene, however, survived just 19.9 months on Erbitux versus 18.6 on chemo alone. And in both cases, the difference could have been due to chance. It was statistically insignificant.

Roche shot back, saying that Avastin extends patients' lives regardless of their K-Ras status. Quoting previous studies, the company said Avastin patients survived more than two years if they didn't have the mutation, and a had statistically significant gain in survival whether mutated or not.

Roche needn't have bothered. The media quickly picked up ImClone's release, highlighting the fact that Erbitux didn't meet its survival time endpoint. The word "failed" was used. We'll see how ImClone responds.

- check out the ImClone announcement 
- see the Roche release
- read the CNN Money story