Metastatic pancreatic cancer drug improves survival in trial

1 May 2014

An experimental drug for metastatic pancreatic cancer improved the overall survival rate in patients, in combination with another two drugs, in a clinical trial.

In particular, Merrimack Pharmaceuticals said a combination of its drug, MM-398, and two others showed an overall survival of 6.1 months, compared with 4.2 months shown by the other two drugs alone.

The company said on Thursday it would apply for a U.S. marketing approval for the combination this year.

Trial in combination with 5-FU and leucovorin

The late-stage study was testing the drug in patients who were earlier treated with chemotherapy drug gemcitabine. The trial tested MM-398 in combination with another chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) and leucovorin, which helps enhance 5-FU's effectiveness.

Merrimack said its drug showed an overall survival of 4.9 months when used alone, which was not statistically significant.

Side effects: low white blood cells count, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting

The company said the most common serious adverse events in patients given the combination were an abnormally low count of a type of white blood cells, fatigue, diarrhea and vomiting.

Merrimack said patients taking only MM-398 experienced a higher level of adverse events than those who received the drug combination.

The company is also testing the drug as a treatment for colorectal cancer, a type of brain tumor and a rare form of bone cancer.

 

Source: Reuters: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/01/us-merrimack-pharma-cancerdrug-idUSKBN0DH2NJ20140501

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