The duo announced yesterday that Nexavar, when added to a chemotherapy regimen of Eli Lilly's
Interestingly, the triple-drug combo delayed growth of the tumors compared to the chemotherapy alone. Good news, but not enough to get Nexavar expanded into lung cancer; patient survival trumps effects on tumor growth any day.
While the drug didn't help newly diagnosed lung cancer patients live longer, the effect on tumors is a good sign as the companies have already started a phase 3 trial testing Nexavar in later-stage lung cancer patients who have failed other treatments. Nexavar is being tested by itself, which might be the only way for the drug to increase overall survival. The clinical trials supporting its approval in both liver and kidney cancer both tested the drug as a monotherapy.
While yesterday's data should provide a little hope that Nexavar might be able to expand into lung cancer, investors should be careful factoring in potential sales for late-stage patients. Lung cancer is a tough disease to crack. I can't think of any drugs that have shown an effect on lung cancer recently except Pfizer's
Fortunately, even if Nexavar fails in lung cancer all together, there's plenty of money to be made fighting wars against other cancer types.