TRENTON, N.J. — A key experimental liver cancer drug that Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. has been testing did not meet the main goal of a late-stage study, the company said late Thursday.
However, Bristol-Myers said three other late-stage studies of brivanib are continuing as planned.
In the study just ended, brivanib was being tested against dummy pills in liver cancer patients who had tried the cancer drug sorafenib and either couldn't tolerate it or had their cancer worsen.
The study was meant to show whether giving brivanib after patients failed on that drug would increase overall survival. It did not.
"The treatment options for patients with (liver cancer) following failure of sorafenib are limited, and thus we are disappointed that the primary endpoint was not met," Dr. Brian Daniels, the company's senior vice president for global development and medical affairs, said in the statement. "We remain committed to the development of brivanib as a potential treatment option for patients with liver cancer."
The company intends to present detailed results of the study, including how the drug fared on secondary goals, at an upcoming scientific meeting.
Daniels noted that an ongoing study of brivanib as an initial treatment for liver cancer is expected to finish next year.
Bristol-Myers executives had said in June that they planned to apply next year for U.S. and European Union approval of brivanib.
Cancer is a key product area for Bristol-Myers Squibb. The New York-based company sells the widely used breast cancer drug Taxol, a second breast cancer drug called Ixempra, Sprycel for chronic myeloid leukemia, Vumon for a type of childhood leukemia and Yervoy, approved earlier this year for advanced melanoma. It also sells Erbitux, for head and neck cancers, jointly with Eli Lilly & Co.
In addition, liver disease is an important research focus for the company, including liver cancer and two types of hepatitis, B and C.
Brivanib is a pill that blocks receptors involved in the growth of cancerous and other cells. So far, it's been tested in 29 studies that have included more than 4,000 patients around the world.