Antisoma crushed as lung cancer drug fails to deliver in late trials

City A.M. Reporter
CANCER specialist Antisoma suffered a crushing blow yesterday as a lung cancer drug being developed with Novartis failed in a late-stage trial.

Chief executive Glyn Edwards admitted Antisoma is now unlikely to get any money from its ASA404 treatment, which had been its biggest drug hope. An interim analysis concluded that continuing with the study would be futile, as there was little or no prospect of demonstrating a survival benefit in patients with previously untreated non-small cell lung cancer.

“Novartis will undoubtedly do a full commercial appraisal based on this new evidence,” Edwards said.

“We have to say it’s quite unlikely that we will get any future cash flows from this program, although we weren’t expecting anything in the short term.”

Novartis had been planning to file ASA404 for approval next year. The Swiss drugmaker said it was now evaluating the overall clinical programme for ASA404 in both lung cancer and other indications.

Andy Smith, a biotechnology fund manager at AXA Framlington, said the failure highlighted shortfalls in earlier testing, noting Phase III studies represented a higher bar because they included more diverse and often sicker patients.

Novartis bought the global rights to ASA404 three years ago, after the drug was previously rejected by rival Roche.

It had been touted as the first in a new class of anti-cancer drugs designed to disrupt the flow of blood to tumours, working in a different way to Roche’s established medicine Avastin.

Antisoma’s shares crashed on the news yesterday, plummeting 75 per cent over the day to an all-time low of 8p.