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Torisel fails to top Bayer’s Nexavar as second-line kidney cancer treatment

Comparative study dents prospects for Pfizer’s drug

Pfizer Torisel, Bayer Nexavar

Pfizer's kidney cancer drug Torisel was unable to better rival drug Nexavar from Bayer in a comparative study, denting its prospects.

The results of the phase III trial showed that Torisel (temsirolimus) was unable to improve progression-free survival significantly compared to Nexavar (sorafenib) when given as a second-line therapy for advanced renal cell carcinoma (RCC) patients after Pfizer's Sutent (sunitinib).

Meanwhile, Nexavar was able to show a significant improvement on overall survival, while Torisel was unable to achieve that outcome.

Pfizer put a brave face on the results, with the company's senior VP of clinical development and medical affairs, Dr Mace Rothenburg, saying that Torisel remained "an important drug for the treatment of advanced kidney cancer based on its pivotal study in first-line patients with poor prognostic risk".

The product is already approved in the US and EU as a first-line treatment for advanced RCC in patients with poor prognosis.

It competes in a crowded market which also includes Pfizer's own Inlyta (axitinib), as well as GlaxoSmithKline's Votrient (pazopanib), Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus) and Roche/Genentech's Avastin (bevacizumab), which are all approved to treat various stages of the disease.

Inlyta was approved in the US earlier this year as a second-line therapy for RCC, and last year a comparative study with Nexavar suggested it was superior to Bayer's drug in improving progression-free survival.

Meanwhile, Aveo Pharmaceuticals' tizovanib also outperformed Nexavar in the second-line setting and is due to be filed for approval in the US in the third-quarter of 2012. With that in mind Pfizer will likely not try to carry out another trial of Torisel in the second-line setting.

Nevertheless, with three drugs now serving the RCC market Pfizer has the bases covered, even though Torisel looks set to be a smaller earner than hoped.

17th May 2012

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