In new setback, Pfizer halts Sutent trial

In its second strike-out in two months, Pfizer's cancer drug Sutent has whiffed a trial in prostate cancer. The company stopped the trial, which was studying Sutent plus prednisone as a treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer, saying that the drug combo was unlikely to prove superior to prednisone alone.

It's just the latest disappointment in Pfizer's campaign to broaden use of Sutent, which is approved for kidney cancer and some gastrointestinal cancers. Last month, Sutent failed a lung cancer trial, and in April a study in liver cancer was halted because of serious side effects. And as Reuters notes, Sutent previously failed a late-stage study in breast cancer patients.

The company hasn't given up on nabbing new indications for the drug, however. It's still studying Sutent for as an adjuvant treatment for kidney cancer.

Pfizer's not alone in trying--or failing--to develop an existing cancer drug for several different indications. Roche's Avastin comes to mind. The company has been studying Avastin, first approved for advanced colorectal cancer, as a treatment for everything from early-stage colon cancer (failed last week) and prostate cancer (failed earlier this year) to non-small cell lung cancer (approved) and advanced kidney cancer (also approved). Its current breast cancer indication is up for review.

- see the release from Pfizer
- read the Dow Jones story
- check out the news from Reuters