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Amgen Cancer Drug Not Effective In Treating Multiple Myeloma

Pharmaceutical company Amgen has taken a hit as its multiple myeloma drug Kyprolis failed in its phase III clinical trial, sending its sales into a downward spin.

The phase III study named “Clarion” was designed to prove that Kyprolis was superior to Velcade, sold by Japanese drug company Takeda, in treating multiple myeloma – a form of cancer that occurs in plasma cells found in bone marrow.

When Kyprolis was added to a standard chemotherapy treatment regimen, it performed no better than Velcade in stopping tumor regrowth. The drug also did not help in patients with newly diagnosed multiple myeloma, Amgen admitted.

According to preliminary reports on the study, Velcade patients were living longer than Kyprolis patients, The Street reports.

Amgen acquired the drug when it bought Onyx Pharmaceuticals for $10 billion in 2013. Kyprolis is an approved medication for multiple myeloma patients who are no longer responding to initial treatment. But Kyprolis sales have been a disappointment in light of the Onyx price tag, racking up $512 million in 2015 and only $326 million so far this 2016.

Placing Kyprolis in the treatment of newly diagnosed multiple myeloma patients was expected to boost flagging sales and justify Amgen’s acquisition, but Clario’s failure has set the company back even more. However, front-line studies are still set to look further into the drug’s applications.

Multiple myeloma has become a lucrative field for pharmaceutical companies in recent years. While Celgene dominates the market with Revlimid and Pomalyst, other companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb have released their own treatments. Doctors use a combination of various drugs to treat multiple myeloma patients.

Multiple myeloma is a fairly rare form of cancer, with a lifetime risk of one in 143. The five-year survival rate for this kind of cancer is 47%, according to the American Cancer Society. In 2016, the ACS estimates 30,300 new cases of multiple myeloma in the country, and predicts 12,650 deaths from the same.

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