Top 10 late-stage cancer drugs in 2012

Thousands of experimental meds are winding their way through various stages of clinical trials today, and the largest category among the contenders is cancer drugs. Of the hundreds of cancer programs under surveillance at FierceBiotech, we've culled the most promising programs we could find.

We welcome contrary views about our picks, but we saw four of the 10 drugs we selected last year--Seattle Genetics' ($SGEN) Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), Pfizer's ($PFE) Xalkori (crizotinib), Plexxikon's Zelboraf (vemurafenib, formerly code-named PLX4032) and Roche's ($RHHBY) Erivedge (vismodegib)--gain FDA approvals since last year. The others remain in the hunt for regulatory nods, and we've included many of them in this year's roundup.

Like in last year's edition of this report, we've emphasized drugs that are at the very least headed into late-stage development. Most of the programs featured have provided compelling safety and efficacy data, yet we also highlighted a lesser-known drug called BBI608 because it's an excellent example of how the field of new drugs targeting cancer stem cells has matured. Dainippon Sumitomo saw enough promise in the program to scoop up its developer, Boston Biomedical,in a deal that could be worth more than $2.6 billion.

Please alert us to what you think are glaring omissions and, importantly, tell us why those missing programs should have been included here. For instance, To be clear, we've only included drugs here that are new biologics or chemical entities that haven't been approved yet. -- Ryan McBride (Email | Twitter)