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Sanofi-Aventis Says Cancer Drug Has Little Effect

From Associated Press (January 28, 2011)

NEW YORK -- French drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA said Thursday a clinical trial showed its drug candidate iniparib did not improve survival or slow disease progression in patients with breast cancer.

The late-stage clinical trial was designed to evaluate iniparib as a treatment for "triple negative" breast cancer, a type of breast cancer that is particularly difficult to treat. The study involved 519 patients whose cancer had metastasized or spread to other body parts. The trial compared a chemotherapy regimen including iniparib to one without it, evaluating its effects on overall patient survival and the amount of time patients lived before their disease resumed progressing or they died.

Sanofi-Aventis said there was not a significant difference between the regimen that included iniparib and the one that did not. Both regimens included the cancer drug Gemzar and the chemotherapy drug carboplatin.

However, the company said some patients who had been treated with one or two other therapies before enrolling in the trial did benefit from the iniparib regimen.

Sanofi-Aventis said 15 to 20 percent of breast cancer patients have the "triple negative" type of the disease, and they have a worse prognosis than other types of breast cancer. The disease is called triple negative because the tumors have normal levels of three proteins that are often found in high levels in breast cancer patients. Patients are usually treated with chemotherapy because the cancer does not respond to hormone-based drugs like tamoxifen, or drugs that target epidermal growth factors like Herceptin.

Shares of Sanofi-Aventis fell 25 cents to $35 in aftermarket trading. The stock picked up 6 cents during the day before Sanofi announced the trial's results.


Posted: January 2011