AstraZeneca's string of regulatory successes has been broken--snapped by its decision to pull marketing applications in the U.S. and Europe for the cancer drug Zactima.
Named by Fitch Ratings as one of AstraZeneca's most promising late-stage products, Zactima (vandetanib) was scuttled by an updated analysis which failed to demonstrate an added survival benefit when the drug was added to chemotherapy for patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Regulators provided the final push by suggesting that an application that relied on progression-free survival data--rather than overall survival--might not warrant an approval.
AZ will complete two ongoing trials for thyroid and lung cancer in the next few months to get a clearer picture of the drug's prospects "in different clinical settings." Like Avastin, Zactima is a VEGF inhibitor designed to starve tumors of blood.