U.S. Markets closed

Ahead of the Bell: Celgene cancer drug fares well

The Associated Press

Celgene's cancer treatment Abraxane improved survival time for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer when paired with another treatment in a late-stage study.

The Summit, N.J., company said Abraxane combined with gemcitabine, which goes by the brand name Gemzar, delivered a statistically significant improvement in overall survival for patients who have yet to undergo treatment, compared with patients who received only Gemzar.

Celgene's subsidiary, Celgene International Sarl, also said late Tuesday that 35 percent of the patients taking the paired drugs survived for one year, compared with 22 percent taking Gemzar alone.

U.S. regulators already have approved Abraxane to treat breast cancer and a form of lung cancer. The company plans to seek approval for the pancreatic cancer use in the first half of this year.

Celgene said pancreatic cancer makes up only about 2 percent of all newly diagnosed cancers, but it has the lowest survival rate of all forms of the disease. The five-year survival rate for patients with advanced forms of the disease is less than 2 percent.

Researchers also are studying Abraxane as a possible treatment for bladder and ovarian cancers.

Cantor analyst Mara Goldstein said she has high expectations for Abraxane as a pancreatic cancer treatment. Goldstein things the study data was strong, but she wouldn't be surprised to see Celgene shares take a break from climbing after advancing about 30 percent in the last two months.

Shares of Celgene Corp. fell $1.21, or 1.2 percent, to $98.10 Wednesday in premarket trading.