Pfizer Halts Late-Stage Trial of Potential Lymphoma Drug


For the second time this week, a major pharmaceutical company has pulled the plug on a trial testing a potential treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Earlier in the week, pharmaceutical giant Lilly halted the Phase III trial of a candidate for treating patients with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Pfizer to test drug against other blood cancers

And now word comes from Pfizer Inc. saying that they, too, have halted a late-stage trial of an investigational drug for the treatment of aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after independent monitors of the trial concluded that the drug was unlikely to offer patients any survival benefits. This will not stop the company from testing the drug inotuzumab ozogamicin against other blood cancers, however.

In a statement released to the press, Pfizer's senior vice president of clinical development and medical affairs for its oncology business unit, Mace Rothenberg, said, "Hematologic cancers are a complex group of diseases with more than 70 different types of lymphomas, leukemias or myelomas that require unique treatment options."

No known safety issues with the drug

The trial had been testing inotuzumab in combination with the monoclonal antibody rituximab in patients with relapsed or refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma who were not candidates for intensive high-dose chemotherapy. This arm of the trial was being compared against two other arms – one that received rituximab plus Treanda and one that received rituximab and gemcitabine.

The monitors indicated that there were no safety problems with the drug, just inefficacy. Since conclusion of the trial would have begun the process of obtaining regulatory approval, and since monitors concluded that the combination was no better in terms of overall survival than the other two regimens, Pfizer decided to pull the plug.

It is not known which blood cancers the drug will be tested against next.

Source: Pfizer

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