Shares of biotechnology firm Amgen, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMGN) shot up 4 percent Thursday, after results of a study for its Aranesp anemia drug for patients with small-cell lung cancer yielded no difference in survival rates than for patients who did not use the drug.
The Phase III study of the Aranesp demonstrated a significant change in hemoglobin concentration from baseline in favor of the drug. Amgen also said Aranesp-treated patients also experienced a significantly lower risk of blood transfusions.
Aranesp is in a class of drugs called erythropoiesis-stimulating agents, or ESAs, that treat anemia by stimulating the body's production of hemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen.
The U.S. Food and Drug administration recently required that Aranesp and other ESAs receive strong warning labels after news arose of negative side effects related to such medicines.
These results contribute to the growing body of evidence on ESA safety, reinforcing the neutral impact of ESAs on survival in cancer patients suffering from chemotherapy-induced anemia, said Roger M. Perlmutter, executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen.
The study was conducted with 600 previously untreated patients having extensive-stage small-cell lung cancer receiving platinum-containing chemotherapy.
Aranesp was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in September 2001 for the treatment of chronic kidney disease.
The 145 study was designed to evaluate whether the drug, when administered with platinum-containing chemotherapy in patients, increased survival.
Amgen plans to host a conference call on Monday to discuss detailed results.
Shares of the Thousand Oaks, Calif-based firm rose $2.62 or 4.4 percent to $62.63 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.