Clavis explores its options after second decisive PhIII cancer drug failure

Clavis Pharma's last shot at success in late-stage cancer drug R&D ended in a decisive failure today, with the Norwegian company reporting that its experimental drug elacytarabine failed to register a significant improvement in overall survival for late-stage patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Coming fast on the heels of the demise of its lead cancer drug, which had been partnered with Clovis Oncology in the U.S., Clavis execs (OSE: CLAVIS) said they would scrap their remaining clinical programs for the drug, hit the brakes on spending and review their strategic options-which aren't extensive.

The AML drug scored a 3.5 month median survival rate compared to a near mirror-image outcome of 3.3 months in the control arm, dooming the drug and forcing the company to scrap its last clinical-stage effort.

Back in November, Clavis' development partner Clovis announced that their pancreatic cancer drug CP-4126--in-licensed in two pacts totaling $586 million--proved a complete bust. The treatment failed to show an overall survival benefit compared to a gemcitabine arm and found that, contrary to their hypothesis, hENT1 status had no impact on survival. At that point, all Clavis's eggs were in the elacytarabine basket.

"We will review the strategic options for the company during the coming weeks, and shareholders will be informed about the alternatives available at a later date," said CEO Olav Hellebo. "Immediate steps will be taken to minimize our expenditure going forward, while caring for those patients who are still benefiting from elacytarabine."

- here's the press release