Nexavar disappoints in another lung-cancer trial

Bayer has met with another setback in its quest to extend Nexavar use to lung-cancer patients. The drug failed to extend the lives of patients with non-small cell lung cancer when used as a first-line treatment, Bayer and its partner Onyx Pharmaceuticals announced. It's the second time Nexavar has disappointed its makers when tested against that disease.

The drug did help prolong "progression-free survival," i.e., the length of time before tumors began to grow again. Apparently, that's enough good news to keep Bayer's hopes up; the company said it intends to keep studying Nexavar as a lung cancer treatment. Bayer also reaffirmed its long-term sales estimates for Nexavar: peak sales of more than €2 billion, or $2.45 billion.

Analysts, though, weren't so sanguine. An MM Warburg analyst told the Wall Street Journal that he deemed the results "neutral," given the fact that competing products haven't exactly aced their own lung cancer trials. But two others told Reuters that they're not betting on Nexavar's prospects. "We see high market potential but also very low chances of success," DZ Bank's Peter Spengler said. Merck Finck's Carsten Kunold was more blunt: "It is rather unlikely that Nexavar will become approved for the treatment of lung cancer." Ouch.

- see the Bayer release
- read the Reuters story
- see the piece in the WSJ