UPDATE 1-Oncolytics head-and-neck cancer drug study fails to impress

Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:31pm EST
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By Esha Dey and Garima Goel

Nov 21 (Reuters) - Oncolytics Biotech Inc's lead cancer drug did not show as much improvement in survival rates of patients with head-and-neck cancer as expected by investors, sending its shares down as much as 21 percent.

The company said the drug improved survival in patients without their cancer worsening compared with those receiving chemotherapy alone, but did not say whether these results were statistically significant.

Analysts, however, said the improvement was difficult to assess due to lack of data on analyses of the trial.

A late-stage trial showed that 88 patients getting Reolysin - in combination with chemotherapy drugs carboplatin and paclitaxel - had a median survival rate of 150 days without their cancer worsening, the company said on Thursday.

Patients receiving chemotherapy alone showed a median survival rate of 115 days.

However, a statistically significant increase was reported in the number of patients on Reolysin experiencing mild fever, chills, nausea and diarrhea.

The persistent low-grade fever led to dropouts, shrinking the pool of patients.   Continued...