NEW YORK (
) -- Biotech powerhouse
said Thursday that clinical trials of its cancer treatment Vectibix show that the drug, when combined with a standard chemotherapy drug regimen, can extend the lives of those with colorectal cancer.
"We believe that these data document an important advance for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer," said Roger M. Perlmutter, Amgen's executive vice president of Research and Development, in a statement. "These are the first prospective Phase 3 data to demonstrate the utility of KRAS mutational analysis as a predictive biomarker."
The results, according to Amgen, showed that Vectibix, when administered in combination with chemotherapy drug FOLFOX, "significantly prolonged progression-free survival compared with FOLFOX alone."
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the third most common cancer in women worldwide. It is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world, killing more than 630,000 a year.
The drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the first time in September 2006. It was, at the time, rather narrowly approved as a third-line treatment for certain types of advanced colorectal cancers. Sales of the drug were $153 million in 2008; sales of Erbitux, the more popular colorectal cancer drug from Amgen competitor
, were $802 million last year.
In July, Amgen announced that its second-quarter earnings had increased by more than 40%, and raised its 2009 earnings forecast to a range of $4.80 to $4.95 a share.
The company released the results of the Vectibix trials at the close of the market Thursday. In after-market trading, shares of the company were changing hands at $61.66, up 89 cents from its regular-session finish.
-- Written by Ty Wenger in New York
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