is moving three cancer drugs into phase III testing, the last round of clinical trials before the treatments will be submitted to regulators for approval.
Phase III requires the largest number of patients, the most time and the biggest sums of money for research and development. Pfizer made its announcement at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago.
More than 20% of the company's development budget is spent on cancer research.
The company will begin testing axitinib, which is already in phase III testing for thyroid cancer, as a treatment for pancreatic cancer this year. Pfizer will also start a late-stage trial on a drug called CP-751,871 for non-small-cell lung cancer, which is the most common form of lung cancer in the U.S.
Additionally, Pfizer is looking for new uses for Sutent, now sold as a treatment for advanced kidney cancer and a rare type of stomach cancer. Sutent was approved by the Food and Drug Administration
in January 2006.
On Monday, Pfizer repeated its plan, announced in late May, to conduct phase III tests of Sutent for liver cancer, colorectal cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer. Sutent is already in phase III testing for breast cancer.
At the ASCO meeteing, Pfizer presented phase II liver-cancer data for Sutent
that wasn't impressive, according to
's Adam Feuerstein. Sutent's results
paled in comparison with the phase III results for Nexavar from
Nexavar is approved for treating kidney cancer.
Pfizer added that it will determine next year, based on the results of midstage clinical trials, whether to advance a pair of other experimental compounds to phase III testing for the deadly skin cancer malignant melanoma and for non-small-cell lung cancer.