Updated with new information.
SAN FRANCISCO (TheStreet) -- Scientists and investors are getting their first detailed look this weekend at a large study of Amgen's (AMGN) multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis. The study, known as ASPIRE, is a key component of Amgen's strategy to boost Kyprolis sales and not incidentally, justify the high cost to acquire the drug.
Kyprolis is approved in the U.S. as a treatment for multiple myeloma patients no longer responding to any other drugs. But sales generated to date ($240 million in the first three quarters of this year) have been a bit disappointing, lagging, for instance, Celgene's (CELG) Pomalyst, which is also approved for a similar myeloma patient population.
Amgen markets Kyprolis following the $10.4 billion acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals. A key assumption in spending that kind of money to buy Onyx was that data from the ASPIRE study and others would secure Kyprolis' approval in Europe and lead to expanded usage in a larger slice of myeloma patients.
The American Society of Hematology is highlighting the Kyprolis ASPIRE study at a press briefing this morning as part of its annual meeting currently underway. Full results from the study are being presented on Sunday afternoon.
At the ASH media briefing, Dr. Keith Stewart of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz. and an investigator in the ASPIRE study said the Kyrpolis data should convince myeloma doctors to change the way patients with earlier-stage disease are treated.
The study enrolled 792 patients with multiple myeloma which had relapsed following one to three prior therapies. The patients were randomized to treatment with a combination of Kyprolis, Celgene's Revlimid and a steroid or Revlimid plus the steroid as a control comparator.
At the interim analysis, patients in the Kyprolis arm of the study showed a 31% reduction in the risk that their disease would progress compared to the control arm. At the median, Kyprolis patients reported progression-free survival of 26.3 months compared to a 17.6 months for the control arm. These results satisfied the primary endpoint of the study with statistical significance.
A final analysis of overall survival designed to determine if Kyprolis can help patients live longer has not been completed. An interim survival analysis trended in favor of Kyprolis but the result was not statistically significant.