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Pfizer drug found effective in advanced lung cancer

By Lee Howard

Publication: theday.com

Published June 19. 2012 1:00PM   Updated June 19. 2012 1:59PM

A new Pfizer Inc. drug to treat a specific type of advanced lung cancer has been shown to be superior to conventional chemotherapy in extending patient survival, the company said today.

The drug Xalkori, discovered at Pfizer laboratories in La Jolla, Calif., and developed largely in Groton, previously received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. The late-stage study results released today showed that Xalkori, previously called crizotinib, "significantly improved progression-free survival" when compared with standard chemotherapy such as pemetrexed or docetaxel in patients with a certain genetic abnormality.

"This study provides further support for the precision medicine approach to drug development being taken at Pfizer by demonstrating how knowledge about the underlying genetic abnormalities within a cancer can be used to improve the standard of care for that disease," Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs for Pfizer's Oncology Business Unit, said in a statement.

Pfizer said it detected no unexpected number of adverse events among patients in the late-stage study who took Xalkori. A full report on Xalkori's effectiveness and safety will be released in an upcoming medical meeting at an unspecified time, the company said.

Xalkori went from the discovery phase to the bedsides of patients in only four years, compared with the typical eight to 10 years of most FDA-approved treatments. Groton contributed to the speedy delivery time by determining the best formulation for the drug and quickly delivering large quantities to patients in clinical studies.

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