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Onyx Plunges as Study Disappoints

Nexavar missed the goals of a cancer trial.




Onyx Pharmaceuticals


suffered a research setback, saying an experimental drug failed to meet its goals in a study for the treatment of advanced skin cancer.

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The late-stage trial looked at the drug Nexavar plus the chemotherapies carboplatin and paclitaxel and compared it to treatment with a placebo and the same chemo regimen. Researchers were hoping to show that the administration of Nexavar led to an improvement in the time that melanoma patients lived without significant tumor growth.

"We are disappointed, first and foremost, for the patients with refractory metastatic melanoma for whom treatment options are so limited," said Hollings Renton, Onyx's chairman, president, and chief executive. "However, this trial does not change our commitment to, and belief in, Nexavar."

The trial enrolled 270 patients whose disease progressed after previous treatments with either dacarbazine or temozolomide chemotherapies.

Shares of Onyx plunged on the news, falling 29.5% to $12.33. Bayer lost 1 cent to $51.84.

The companies expect to continue studying Nexavar's effectiveness in types of cancer that have already shown an improvement with other drugs in its class, known as antiangiogenics.

Melanoma accounts for about 4% of skin cancer cases, but is responsible for approximately 77% of skin cancer deaths, Bayer says.