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Eli Lilly's experimental pancreatic cancer drug fails in phase 3 trial

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Posted at 10:29 AM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 10:29:13-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An experimental cancer drug by Eli Lilly has failed in its phase 3 study with metastatic pancreatic cancer, the company announced this week.

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly said Wednesday that patients who used the drug called pegilodecakin with Folfox (a chemotherapy combination) did not live longer than patients who just received Folfox.

"Pancreatic cancer has proven to be one of the most difficult tumor types to treat and there have been very few recent treatment advancements in the later-line metastatic setting,” said Maura Dickler, M.D., vice president, late phase development, Lilly Oncology. “We are grateful to the patients, investigators and researchers who participated in the study.”

Just 3% of patients in the United States live five years after being diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer. It is the third leading cause of cancer death in the country.

Eli Lilly acquired pegilodecakin in a 2018 acquisition of ARMI BioSciences for $1.6 billion.

Pegilodecakin is an immunotherapy which stimulates the body’s defenses against cancer. The company said it will focus the drug other tumor types, including renal cell carcinoma.

“While we are disappointed by the outcome of the SEQUOIA study, we look forward to the upcoming results in lung cancer, learning from those results and increasing our understanding of pegilodecakin's novel mechanism of action in cancer immunotherapy,” Dickler said.

Eli Lilly shares fell 1.6% to $108 on Wednesday.