Healthcare Business

Amgen Surprise, Discontinues Stomach Cancer Drug Study

Chris Lange

Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) announced the termination of all Amgen-sponsored clinical studies of rilotumumab in advanced gastric cancer. This includes phase 3 RILOMET-1 and RILOMET-2 studies. The decision to discontinue was made based on the research of an independent safety review committee, which found that there was an increased number of deaths in rilotumumab and chemotherapy treatment arm when compared to chemotherapy treatment only arm.

Rilotumumab is an investigational fully-human monoclonal antibody designed to inhibit the hepatocyte growth factor/scatter factor (HGF/SF):MET pathway, which has the potential to reduce cell proliferation, impair survival signals, and prevent the migration and invasion of tumor cells.

Despite this setback, Amgen is currently in communication with investigators in rilotumumab studies to coordinate study termination and give guidance for the study subject follow-up.

Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen, said:

While we are disappointed with these results, we will work with lead investigators to further analyze the data in order to help inform future research and therapies in this area. There is a high unmet need for new treatments to address advanced gastric cancer, one of the leading causes of cancer death worldwide.

Shares of Amgen have largely ignored the negative news. It seems that the hope for this one must have been very limited, and perhaps the company is still rising positive cholesterol drug study news. Amgen shares were up over 1% at $164.72 right after the opening bell. The stock has a consensus analyst price target of $165.62 and a 52-week range of $108.20 to $165.58.