Celgene’s chemotherapy Abraxane stumbles in pivotal pancreatic cancer study

Days after Celgene’s Abraxane secured approval in combination with Roche’s checkpoint inhibitor for frontline use in triple negative breast cancer, the US drugmaker reported that the chemotherapy failed to improve progression-free survival in a pivotal study involving pancreatic cancer patients who had undergone surgical resection.

Abraxane is already approved for use in various cancers: metastatic breast cancer, metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) as well as metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas as first-line treatment, in combination with gemcitabine.

Pancreatic cancer is relatively rare but notoriously lethal. It is currently the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States — and it’s projected to move into the second slot by 2020, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

In the 866-patient apact study, Abraxane was tested in top of gemcitabine versus gemcitabine alone in pancreatic cancer patients following surgical resection. The combination did not induce a statistically significant improvement in disease-free survival — the main goal — as confirmed by independent radiological review, compared to gemcitabine alone. Overall survival, a secondary endpoint of the study, was improved, reaching nominal statistical significance, Celgene said, adding that detailed data will be presented at a future medical meeting.

The drug — which generated about $1.06 billion in sales for Celgene $CELG last year — is being evaluated in more than 130 studies involving patients with pancreatic cancer.

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Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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