Germany's Merck suffered another setback for its cancer drug Erbitux, which in a trial failed to significantly increase the length of time advanced gastric cancer patients live without their condition worsening, the pharmaceutical and chemical company said Thursday.
The failed Phase III trial is the second for the drug in two months. In May, Merck said Erbitux showed no benefit for certain colon cancer patients. Erbitux is Merck's second-best selling drug with sales reaching $1.07 billion last year.
The trial showed the use of Erbitux in combination with cisplatin and capecitabine doesn't have the benefits Merck had hoped for. The findings, however, don't alter Erbitux's use in already approved indications to treat metastatic colon cancer, or head and neck cancer.
"Understandably, these results are disappointing for patients with advanced gastric cancer, and as a company we will continue to invest in oncology research and development to find new treatments for these diseases with high unmet medical need," said Annalisa Jenkins, Head of Global Drug Development and Medical for the Merck Serono division. More detailed results from the trial will be submitted for presentation at international scientific meetings soon.