Novacea has shuttered its Phase III trial of the prostate cancer drug Asentar, citing an "imbalance of death" recorded in the two arms of the study. Novacea and partner Schering-Plough say that they will study the data to try and glean some insight into the higher death rate among Asentar patients. The study--which had enrolled 900 of a planned 1200 patients--dosed patients with a combination of Asentar and Taxotere. Details are scarce this morning, with little more than a tersely worded press release for information. But it was all that investors had to know before deciding to bail out. The company's stock plunged by 65 percent this morning.
Asentar has been one of two leading therapies in development at Novacea. Last July the company collected $60 million from Schering-Plough in exchange for a commercialization pact on the drug. Schering-Plough had also committed up to $380 million in milestones plus royalties for an approved product.