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Hospital Healthcare Europe

Increased deaths halt drug trial

12 October, 2009  

The intake of patients for a phase III clinical trial of a lung-cancer drug has been suspended after the group being treated suffered more deaths than those who used established medicines.

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer decided not to expand the trial of its figitumumab product after its test group suffered more adverse events, including fatalities, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Patients were not taking the new drug in isolation but in combination with recognised treatments paclitaxel and carboplatin. A placebo group took only paclitaxel and carboplatin.

Pfizer declined to say how many people had been adversely effected by figitumumab, which is targeted at non-small-cell lung cancer.

The company has been seeking new drugs to replace medications on which patents have been expiring, meaning competitors will be able to start manufacturing the drugs and prices are likely to plummet.

Pfizer said patients who are enrolled on the figitumumab treatment may continue in consultation with their doctors. As of 30 September, 681 patients were enrolled in the phase III study, out of a target of 820.

Copyright Press Association 2009