Novartis' (NYSE: NVS) Afinitor has an affinity for positive results. Hot off an approval for using the drug to help prevent transplant rejection, Novartis announced yesterday that the drug had passed a phase 3 trial testing it as a treatment for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NET).

Unfortunately, that's all the information that Novartis gave investors; the full data will be presented at a scientific meeting in October. The number to beat is 5.9, the number of months that Pfizer's (NYSE: PFE) Sutent extended the time it took for pancreatic tumors to start growing again. Both trials compared drugs to placebo -- not to each other -- so picking a clear winner will be difficult because the patients may be more advanced in one trial or the other. Still, doctors and investors alike will pore through the data in October and try to pick a winner.

Even if it looks like Afinitor is working better than Sutent in pancreatic cancer, it's not going to help sales all that much given the small number of patients that get that disease. But the drug working better than placebo is a good sign that the drug can work on a variety of tumor types. Afinitor is already approved for treating kidney cancer after patients have failed with Sutent or Nexavar from Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ONXX).

Novartis is testing Afinitor in six other cancer types, including the large breast-cancer market, under the aptly named WIDE (Worldwide Initiative to Develop Everolimus) program. Only the results of those trials will tell us if Afinitor is the next Gemzar, which brought in more than $1.3 billion for Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY) last year thanks to approval for treating four different types of cancer. But it's clear that Afinitor is headed in the right direction.

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Fool contributor Brian Orelli, Ph.D., doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. Pfizer is a recommendation of the Inside Value newsletter. The Fool has a disclosure policy.