Novartis lung-cancer drug produces response in over half of patients

Novartis' (NVS) Ceritinib (LDK378) reduced the size of tumors in 58% of patients in a Phase I study of those suffering from a form of lung cancer that strikes 10,000 people a year in the U.S.

Ceritinib is the leader of a class of drugs that targets a gene known as ALK and is 20 times as effective as a drug from Pfizer (PFE) called Xalkori.

However, patients developed resistance to Ceritinib and the median time for progression-free survival was seven months.

The study involved 114 subjects, and while it was only Phase I, Novartis is using the results to file for FDA approval based on the drug's "breakthrough therapy designation."

Other companies developing ALK inhibitors include Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA), and Roche (RHHBF) and Japan's Chugai (CHGCY) together, while Pfizer is working on a follow-on to Xalkori. (PR)

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