- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 12, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Pfizer Inc. said Thursday it ended a successful trial of its cancer drug Sutent early after data showed the drug met its goal of slowing the progression of pancreatic cancer.

The results sent Pfizer shares up about 8 percent in afternoon trading.

The trial showed that Sutent significantly improved progression-free survival, meaning it extended the time patients survived and their disease did not spread, compared to a combination of standard treatment and a placebo. Because the trial was halted early, patients will have the option to keep taking Sutent or switch to Sutent from the standard treatment.

Pfizer hopes to have the drug approved as a treatment for advanced tumors in the islet cells of the pancreas, and the ending of the trial speeds up Pfizer’s path to approval. Sutent is already marketed for renal cell carcinoma and as a secondary treatment for gastrointestinal stromal tumors.

Pfizer stopped the trial after getting a positive recommendation from an independent committee. The company described the cancer as rare, with limited options for treatment.

Sutent is an oral drug that is designed to block molecules that help cancers grow and spread throughout the body. It is already the New York-based company’s best-selling cancer drug, with $847 million in sales in 2008, including $254 million in the U.S.

Pfizer shares rose $1.03, or 8.1 percent, to $13.83. The stock had lost about a quarter of its value since Jan. 26, when Pfizer agreed to buy smaller rival Wyeth for $68 billion.

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