Shares of Biomira ( BIOM) were facing severe selling pressure after the biotech company said its prospective treatment for women with metastatic breast cancer failed to meet the goals of a late-stage study.

Biomira and Merck KGaA of Germany said the results from a large pivotal Phase III trial of the Theratope vaccine didn't meet the two predetermined statistical endpoints of time to disease progression and overall survival. However, one subset of patients, women on hormonal treatment following chemotherapy, "appeared to show a favorable trend to improvement in survival."

Additional analysis of this subset is underway, as is more study of the complete trial data. After the further analysis of the subset data, the companies plan to discuss the results with regulators and then determine how to proceed.

Shareholders were getting out of Biomira before the opening bell, sending the stock down $2.40, or 60%, to $1.60 on Instinet.

"This study has resulted in a wealth of information about metastatic breast cancer, and it is important that we conduct a complete review of the data so that we can determine our best course of action," Biomira said in a press release. "After analysis of the subset data, we intend to discuss this information with the respective regulatory agencies in the U.S., Canada and Europe as soon as possible. We hope to have the first of these discussions within the next three to five months."

In addition to the Phase III trial for women with metastatic breast cancer, Theratope is also being studied in a Phase II study of women with metastatic breast cancer being treated with hormone therapy and a Phase II study in men and women for the treatment of colorectal cancer.

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