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Pfizer Halts Late-Stage Trial Of Sutent In Liver Cancer

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Pfizer Inc. (PFE), the world's biggest drugmaker, said Thursday that it has discontinued a late-stage clinical trial of its drug Sutent as a treatment for liver cancer.

Following a review by the independent data monitoring committee, the trial was discontinued based on a higher incidence of serious adverse events in patients taking Sutent, known chemically as sunitinib, compared to those who took Nexavar, another liver cancer drug marketed by Bayer AG, Pfizer said.

Sutent also failed to demonstrate that it was either superior or non-inferior to Nexavar in extending the survival of liver cancer patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, the New York-based drugmaker said.

"The disappointing outcome of this trial challenges all of us to work harder to understand the complex biology of this disease, " said Dr. Mace Rothenberg, senior vice president of Clinical Development and Medical Affairs for Pfizer's Oncology Business Unit.

Sutent is currently approved as a treatment for advanced kidney cancer and gastrointestinal stromal cancer following disease progression.

Pfizer said it is continuing to study the potential roles of Sutent in the treatment for advanced non-small cell lung cancer, advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer and as an adjuvant treatment in kidney cancer in phase 3 trials.

In March, Pfizer said that two phase 3 trials of Sutent in advanced breast cancer did not meet their primary endpoints.

A phase 3 trial of Sutent as a treatment for advanced colon cancer was discontinued last year after the drug failed to achieve its main goal in the study.

Pfizer is trying to bolster its drug pipeline, as many of its top selling drugs are set to lose patent protection in near future. Last year, Pfizer bought Wyeth, which had a large number of drugs under development, for $67 billion.

Pfizer shares, which have traded in a range of $12.75 to $20.36 over the past year, closed Thursday's regular trading session at $16.48, down 12 cents but gained 2 cents in after hours trading.

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