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Lilly's Cyramza fails in liver cancer trial

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co's recently approved stomach cancer drug Cyramza failed to prolong the lives of patients with advanced liver cancer in a late-stage trial, the drugmaker said on Wednesday.

Patients enrolled in the trial previously had failed to benefit from standard chemotherapy for liver cancer.

"Liver cancer is a very difficult-to-treat tumor type and no Phase III study has been able to demonstrate improved survival in the second-line setting," Lilly said in a release.

Although Cyramza failed to meet the primary survival goal of the trial, Lilly said meaningful improvements were seen in secondary goals of the study, including tumor shrinkage and how long it took for patient conditions to worsen after treatment.

Moreover, Lilly said some specific populations seemed especially to benefit from treatment with its drug.

Lilly said it plans to discuss the overall results with health regulators, given the favorable secondary trends seen in the 565-patient international trial and the absence of any approved second-line treatments for liver cancer.

Cyramza also failed in an earlier study to improve outcomes for patients with breast cancer.

But the drug has proven effective in a late-stage trial against the most common form of lung cancer, and Lilly is also testing it against colorectal cancer.

Investment bank Cowen and Co has predicted Cyramza will generate annual sales of $1.2 billion by 2020, assuming it is approved for at least one additional type of cancer, beyond stomach cancer.

Lilly shares slipped 0.2 percent to $59.61 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange, in line with declines for the drug sector.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)

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