GlaxoSmithKline, the UK-based pharmaceutical group, on Wednesday failed to impress investors with a presentation designed to showcase a growing number of late-stage cancer treatments.

The company said it planned to move seven cancer drugs into Phase III clinical trials next year, but presented data which disappointed some analysts with slipped or uncertain deadlines pushing likely regulatory filings into 2007.

The move marked an effort by GSK to boost its cancer portfolio, which has traditionally been weak, and highlighted progress with four drugs in detailed presentations to analysts. Shares in GSK fell 20p to £14.29.

Tachi Yamada, GSK’s chairman of research and development, said: “These are exciting times for GSK and our oncology business. I believe GSK has the potential to really become one of the leaders in cancer treatment.’’

He claimed the results revealed the success of GSK’s post-merger strategy since 2000 to create smaller centres of excellent for research and development, since which time there has been a near doubling in the number of new chemical entities in development to 97, including 11 in Phase III or registration, 45 in Phase II and 41 in Phase I.

His comments came as recent prescription data has shown a strong upsurge in demand for cancer treatments, making it one of the leading therapeutic areas. Mr Yamada said the segment would be the largest of all for the pharmaceutical companies by 2009, with estimated sales of $70bn compared with $42bn last year.

Tykerb will enter Phase III trials - the final stage before filing for regulatory approval - in January as a first-line treatment for advanced breast cancer; alongside studies to studies its role in brain metastases associated with breast cancer and as an adjuvant in early stage breast cancer.

Eltrombopag will trial as the first oral platelet growth factor for patients on cancer treatment, replacing intrusive remedial therapies that Mr Yamada said cost the US’s 2m such patients $4bn a year alone. Regulatory filings for both drugs will take place in late 2006 or early 2007.

Casopitant, designed to prevent nausea and vomiting for potentially 5m US and European patients on chemotherapy, will enter Phase III trials next year in conjunction with Zofran.

Mr Yamada said GSK should know by the end of this year its filing schedule with the US Food and Drug Administration for Cervarix, its vaccine designed to prevent cervical cancer, a rival to a vaccine already filed by Merck of the US.

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