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Bristol-Myers skin cancer drug misses study goal

NEW YORK (AP) -- Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s skin cancer treatment Yervoy missed a main goal of achieving a significant improvement in overall survival compared to a fake drug when tested in patients with an advanced form of prostate cancer, the drugmaker said Thursday.

The New York company said it studied Yervoy on patients with cancer that had spread beyond the prostate and had become resistant to standard hormonal treatment. These patients had already received radiation treatments and the chemotherapy drug docetaxel.

The drugmaker said that while Yervoy did not achieve statistical significance in improving overall survival, patients taking it over a placebo, or fake drug, averaged better progression-free survival. That measures the time from the start of treatment until a patient's cancer begins advancing again or the patient dies.

Yervoy also appeared to work better in patients with a less advanced form of the disease.

Citi analyst Andrew S. Baum said in a research note he was "positively surprised" by the results and noted that the drug narrowly missed the main goal of improved overall survival.

The company plans to present data from its study at the 2013 European Cancer Congress on Sept. 28. It also is studying the drug in patients with advanced forms of prostate cancer who did not receive chemotherapy.

Bristol-Myers launched Yervoy two years ago as a treatment for advanced melanoma. It rang up $233 million in revenue during the second quarter.

The company said prostate cancer is the second-most frequently diagnosed cancer and sixth most deadly cancer in men. More than 238,000 men are expected to be diagnosed with it this year, and nearly 30,000 will die from it.

Shares of Bristol-Myers closed at $43.26 Wednesday and have climbed more than 32 percent so far this year.