Amgen study: Blood cancer drug Kyprolis doubles time until cancer worsens over rival's Velcade

IndustriesAssociated Press

Biotech drugmaker Amgen Inc.'s blood cancer drug Kyprolis doubled the time it kept the disease from worsening, compared with rival drug Velcade, according to the company.

Kyprolis, an injected medicine for treating a type of blood cancer called multiple myeloma, stopped the disease from progressing for 18.7 months in a study of patients who had relapsed after prior treatment. By comparison, patients in the study who received Velcade, one of the best-selling drugs from Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., on average had their disease worsen after 9.4 months.

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Amgen, based in Thousand Oaks, California, on Sunday released interim results from its study. It's continuing, with a goal of also determining which drug ultimately keeps patients alive the longest.

The Amgen-funded study, known by the acronym ENDEAVOR, included 929 patients who had relapsed after receiving one to three prior treatments. Half received Kyprolis and half received Velcade, which Takeda jointly markets with Johnson & Johnson. Both groups also received a second drug, dexamethasone.

Amgen said that patients getting Kyprolis had a higher response rate to the treatment and less nerve damage than those getting Velcade. However, patients in the Kyprolis group had higher rates of heart and kidney failure, shortness of breath and high blood pressure, compared with those in the Velcade group.

Drugmakers often avoid doing head-to-head tests comparing their drugs to those of rivals, for fear the other one might produce better results.

Multiple myeloma is caused by an abnormality of blood plasma cells, generally in the bone marrow, and is the second-most common blood cancer. Worldwide, nearly 230,000 people have the disease, and each year, about 115,000 new patients are diagnosed and about 80,000 people die from it.

Amgen is best known for its osteoporosis drug Prolia and rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel. It's one of the world's largest makers of biologic drugs, which are manufactured in living cells rather than by mixing chemicals together.

The company said it will release detailed results of the late-stage study, usually the last one before seeking approval from regulators, at a meeting of cancer specialists later this year.

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