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Pfizer's cancer drug meets end points in head-to-head study

Published on 20/05/11 at 07:30am

Pfizer’s investigational cancer drug axitinib significantly increased survival in kidney cancer patients when compared to Bayer’s standard treatment Nexavar.

New data from the phase III AXIS 1032 trial showed that in patients with previously treated advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC), axitinib achieved median progression free survival (PFS) of 6.7 months compared with 4.7 months for those treated with Bayer’s drug, a standard of care for this patient population.

PFS was also significantly longer in axitinib-treated patients compared to those treated with Nexavar (sorafenib), regardless of whether they had previously received another RCC drug, Pfizer’s own RCC drug Sutent (sunitinib).

Dr Mace Rothenberg, senior VP of clinical development at Pfizer’s Oncology Business Unit, said: “We are very pleased that this phase III trial met its primary endpoint and demonstrated that axitinib could prolong median PFS to more than six months in patients with previously treated advanced RCC.

“It is notable that in the subset of patients previously treated with cytokines, axitinib extended median PFS to greater than a year.”

Pfizer says it is currently working with global health authorities on filing submissions for axitinib in RCC.

This is the second head-to-head trial in which axitinib has impressed against Bayer’s Nexavar. Last November it also showed a significant extension of progression-free survival when compared to Bayer’s drug.

Axitinib is an oral and selective inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptors 1, 2 and 3.

These VEGF receptors appear to have roles in tumour growth, vascular angiogenesis and metastatic progression of cancer.

Pfizer currently develops both Sutent and Torisel for metastatic forms of RCC but GlaxoSmithKline’s Votrient, which was recently approved by European regulators for the same indication, is tipped to be the market leader. 

If approved, axitinib would also have to compete against Novartis’ Afinitor, was approved for first line treatment of metastatic RCC by the FDA last November.

Full data will be presented on 6 June at the 47th Annual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting in Chicago from June 3-7, 2011.

Ben Adams

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