Genentech ( DNA) and OSI Pharmaceuticals ( OSIP) said early Monday that a late-stage study found that a combination of cancer drugs Avastin and Tarceva as a second-line treatment in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer failed to increase the overall survival rate. The "BeTa Lung" study looked at Avastin in combination with Tarceva in comparison to Tarceva alone in patients for whom chemotherapy had not stopped cancer progression. Avastin is approved as a first-line treatment in combination with chemotherapy for patients without the squamous form of non-small cell lung cancer, while OSI's Tarceva is approved a second line treatment. Genentech shares closed Friday at $87.53, while OSI shares closed at $45.84. Median survival in the Tarceva and placebo group was 9.2 months. The companies said the median survival in the combination arm was similar but did not give specific data. The full data will be presented at a U.S. conference in November. Notably, the median overall survival in the Tarceva arm was significantly longer than that the 6.7 months observed in the study for which the drug gained approval. Despite the lack of an overall survival improvement in the combination arm, the companies said there was "clear evidence" of improvement in the secondary endpoints of time without tumor progression and response rate. "We are disappointed this study did not show an improvement in survival for patients with advanced lung cancer who have a poor prognosis and a disease that is extremely difficult to treat," said Hal Barron, Genentech's development and chief medical officer.
Stocks soar as the gross domestic product rises at an annualized rate of 3.5% in the third quarter and continuing jobless claims fall. Gregg Greenberg recaps the action in The Real Story video (above).