Pfizer halts enrollment in Phase III cancer study

Alarmed by signs that patients in a late-stage lung cancer drug study were afflicted by a higher rate of adverse events than the volunteers in a placebo arm, Pfizer says it opted to halt enrollment until it can gain a better understanding of what is happening. The adverse events, which include deaths, were flagged by an independent monitoring board overseeing the Phase III figitumumab trial.

As in many cancer trials, researchers were looking for an improved combo effect. In this trial, they matched figitumumab (or CP-751,871) with paclitaxel and carboplatin. Another arm was treated with paclitaxel and carboplatin. The experimental drug is an IGF-1R inhibitor, which is intended to block insulin-like growth factor. Patients already enrolled in the trial will continue to receive treatment under the supervision of their doctor. And a separate trial that matches the drug with Tarceva will continue.

For Pfizer (PFE) the enrollment halt represents one more hitch among a series of problems that have plagued its R&D efforts. Pfizer recently announced plans to merge with Wyeth in an effort to rejuvenate its pipeline work.

- check out the report from the Wall Street Journal

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