Shares of Hutchison China MediTech — better known as Chi-Med — took a nasty hit Friday morning with the news that their lead drug fruquintinib failed a Phase III study for third-line cases of non-small cell lung cancer in China.
The first major new drug to be developed in China and approved by regulators for colon cancer just 2 months ago, researchers say their drug — partnered with Eli Lilly — flopped on the overall survival mark, the primary endpoint.
“While the study demonstrates a significant reduction in disease progression in this challenging lung cancer patient population, we are disappointed that this benefit did not translate into an increase in overall survival,” commented Simon To, chairman of Chi-Med. He went on to note that the drug was on the threshold of hitting the Chinese market, with more studies underway.
The pharma partners set up a manufacturing operation for the drug in Suzhou as they prep for the first rollout.
Chi-Med still has big hopes for this drug, with an early-stage study for solid tumors underway in the US. There’s also a new combo study for the drug combined with a PD-1 checkpoint called genolimzumab (GB226) from Genor, one of a multitude of checkpoints now in the clinic as the first 6 fight for market share in the US. There’s also a combo study for lung cancer as well as gastric cancer in China.
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