Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Celgene’s Revlimid Delays Cancer Progression as Initial Therapy in Study

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By Meg Tirrell

Celgene Corp. (CELG), maker of the cancer drug Revlimid, reported the medicine helped delay progression of multiple myeloma in newly diagnosed patients.

A treatment of Revlimid in combination with the chemotherapy melphalan and steroid prednisone, followed with continuous Revlimid dosing, enabled patients to survive without their disease progressing for 31 months, compared with 12 months for melphalan and prednisone alone, Summit, New Jersey-based Celgene said in a statement. The results were presented today at the American Society of Hematology meeting in San Diego.

The data “makes a strong case for approval of Revlimid in the front line in this population, as well as a convincing case for maintenance use,” Brian Abrahams, a New York-based analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., wrote today in a report. “We believe European regulators should be convinced of Revlimid’s benefits in this population.”

Celgene increased less than 1 percent to $63.66 at the close of trading in New York. The company has gained 7.6 percent this year.

The 459-patient study focused on patients ages 75 and younger who were ineligible for stem-cell transplant, a way of treating the bone marrow cancer. Celgene is applying for approval in Europe for use of Revlimid as a first treatment option and as a maintenance therapy in multiple myeloma.

Safety Profile

The medicine had an acceptable safety profile in patients just starting to use it, with most able to reach maintenance therapy that was also well tolerated, Celgene said in the statement.

About 20,500 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed this year with multiple myeloma and about 10,600 will die of the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The data showed some secondary cancers arose during first- line and maintenance use of Revlimid in 3 percent of patients receiving the combination therapy plus continuous Revlimid and in 2.6 percent of those on the combo without continuous Revlimid, compared with 1 percent in the melphalan-prednisone arm.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meg Tirrell in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

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