The drug: Zibotentan
The disease: Prostate cancer
The company: AstraZeneca
Earlier this year, analysts began to pay particularly close attention to AstraZeneca's late-stage development program for zibotentan, an oral prostate cancer drug that could go head-to-head with the newly approved, an enormously expensive, Provenge.
It turned out, though, that Dendreon had nothing to fear this soon. In late September AstraZeneca announced that zibotentan-a daily tablet that works by blocking the endothelin pathway, which drives the spread of cancer--flunked a Phase III test. In a tersely worded note, AstraZeneca said only that there would be no regulatory filings "at this time." AstraZeneca was also forced to release revised stats from a mid-stage study, moving the drug from positive to less-then-promising.
Two other studies for the therapy in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer are continuing, with more data due out in 2011. Once a drug reaches the point where it is involved in an ambitious Phase III program like this, it's very hard to stop it early.