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Potential Lilly lung cancer drug helps survival

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. said its potential lung cancer treatment necitumumab met a key research goal by helping to increase survival time for patients in a late-stage study.

Shares of Eli Lilly jumped 4.5 percent, or $2.41, to $55.97 Tuesday morning. The stock has traded between $42.10 and $58.40 over the past year.

The Indianapolis company said Tuesday that patients with an advanced form of lung cancer that has spread — stage-four metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer — who received necitumumab and two different chemotherapies lived longer than patients who received just chemotherapy.

The initial results from the study did not detail the length of overall survival time. It said it will present study results at a scientific meeting next year.

Necitumumab has no approved uses, but Lilly plans to submit the drug to regulators for approval before the end of 2014.

The drugmaker is dealing with the expiration of patents protecting some key products from generic competition. For instance, its top seller, the antidepressant Cymbalta, loses U.S. patent protection later this year. Because of this, investors and analysts who follow the company have been closely watching its pipeline of drugs under development.

Necitumumab is a potential biologic drug that was developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and ImClone Systems Inc., which Lilly bought in 2008. Bristol-Myers ended its collaboration with Lilly over the drug earlier this year.

Biologic drugs are produced from living cells instead of by mixing chemicals together.