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AstraZeneca starts new Zactima lung cancer trial

AstraZeneca says it has started another late-stage trial of its experimental drug vandetanib (Zactima®) in lung cancer patients as a second-line treatment.

The phase III trial, called Study 36, will investigate the addition of Zactima (formerly called ZD6474) to Eli Lilly’s Alimta® (pemetrexed) as second-line treatment for patients with locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after failure of first-line anti-cancer treatment. The study will be conducted across 20 countries, including 20 sites in the US, and is expected to enroll at least 508 patients.

As its main objective Study 36 will evaluate progression-free survival with vandetanib 100mg plus pemetrexed 500mg/m2 compared with pemetrexed 500mg/m2 plus placebo in patients with advanced NSCLC, who have previously received anti-cancer treatment.

The study is AstraZeneca’s fourth phase III trial with this tumour, and two of the other trials are looking at vandetanib in combination with docetaxel and versus erlotinib. The company will be hoping for some promising data to come out of the studies, given the series of late-stage pipeline blows it has suffered recently, notably with NXY-059 (formerly Cerovive®), a candidate drug for stroke and Galida® (tesaglitazar) for diabetes.

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca announced that 850 jobs are to go within its Swedish operation, as part of its planned reduction of some 3,000 jobs or nearly 5% of its workforce over the next three years.

The move follows earlier plans for 450 jobs to be cut in Sweden this year, which the firm believes can be achieved through retirement and voluntary redundancies. AstraZeneca employs some 12,800 people in Sweden, 4,500 of them in production.

The news comes in the wake of the firm unveiling plans to shed 700 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Macclesfield, UK, over the next three years, out of a workforce of some 2,500.

PharmaTimes 27/02/2007