Sutent fails in colon-cancer trial

Once again, Pfizer calls an early halt to Sutent research--and it's not good news. The cancer drug failed as an add-on to chemotherapy in first-line treatment of colon cancer, the company said, proving no more effective than standard chemo alone. "We are disappointed with this result, but trial successes and failures are an integral part of cancer drug development and contribute to a growing body of knowledge on improving patient care," Dr. Mace Rothenberg, head of clinical development and medical affairs for Pfizer's oncology unit, said in a statement.

You'll recall that a few weeks ago, Pfizer stopped a breast cancer trial because Sutent wasn't likely to meet its endpoint; in that study, Sutent plus chemo was pitted against Roche's Avastin plus chemo. The Pfizer med also failed another head-to-head trial, this time against Roche's Xeloda. Two other late-stage breast cancer trials are ongoing, though, looking at Sutent in combo with Xeloda and in combination with Sanofi-Aventis' Taxotere. Results from both are expected either late this year or early next.

Meanwhile, on the positive side of the ledger, Sutent performed admirably in a pancreatic cancer study this year. Pfizer stopped a study in March because the drug clearly increased progression-free survival for patients with a rare form of the disease, pancreatic islet cell tumors. The data was presented last week at a gastointestinal cancer summit in Europe.

- see the statement from Pfizer
- read the Reuters story
- check out the pancreatic cancer article at mediLexicon