Nexavar skin-cancer trial halted for failure

A bad surprise for Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals: A trial of their cancer med Nexavar stopped early not because the drug was so effective, but because it was obvious that the study wouldn't ever get to its primary goal. The companies had been testing the liver- and kidney-cancer treatment against skin cancer.

In the trial, patients on chemo plus Nexavar showed little difference from those using chemo plus placebo. "We're disappointed with the results of the study and that the therapy did not bring benefit to patients with melanoma, a historically difficult tumor to treat," Dr. Todd Yancey, Onyx's VP of clinical development, said in a statement. The companies plan to comb the data to see "what, if any, impact [it] might have on other ongoing Nexavar melanoma trials."

Onyx's Yancey pledged to continue testing Nexavar in other forms of cancer, too. If it proves effective against more cancers, then sales are likely to continue their sharp upward trajectory: Globally, Nexavar brought  in $677.8 million in 2008, an increase of 82 percent. Onyx has estimated that the drug would reach blockbuster status by 2010.

- see the Bayer-Onyx release
- read the story at The Street