Successful cancer drug Sutent may not be effective in prolonging life for patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer.
This week, Pfizer announced that it has ended a Phase III trial of cancer drug Sutent. The drug, which was being tested as a treatment for patients with prostate cancer, has already been approved as a treatment for kidney cancer and for tumors of the stomach, esophagus, and bowels in patients that do not respond to other treatment, according to Forbes.
The Sutent prostate cancer study—which focused on patients who had advanced prostate cancer that had progressed despite treatments with chemotherapy drug docetaxel—was comparing a regimen of prednisone to a regimen of prednisone and Sutent together.
An independent Data Monitoring Committee said that patients on the Sutent/prednisone regimen weren’t living significantly longer than those in the other group, prompting Pfizer to end the study.
“There is a great need for better therapies for prostate cancer and we are committed to working with basic scientists and clinical researchers to identify more effective treatments for this disease,” said Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs, Pfizer Oncology Business Unit in a press statement from Pfizer.
The announcement marks another blow to Pfizer’s efforts to position Sutent as a next generation Avastin—the kind of versatile therapy with multiple indications that provide the building block for a strong oncology franchise.
The decision also indicates the importance now attached to trial results that can document progress against current standard of care; without such evidence, cancer drugs have a harder path to registration, let alone reimbursement.
Much of Pfizer’s future in oncology now depends on the outcome of a large trial for crizotinib, which has shown early promise in reducing tumor growth for non-small cell lung cancer patients with a specific genetic marker for the disease. Overall, in-house prospects for new drugs at Pfizer are trending negative.
Pfizer currently has 118 drug programs in clinical development, down from 133 in January.