Pfizer to develop cancer drug with Debiopharm

NEW YORK Two drug makers have entered an agreement to develop a drug designed to treat melanoma.

Pfizer said that it would resume the development of its drug tremelimumab with the help of Swiss drug maker Debiopharm. As part of the agreement, Debiopharm will conduct a phase 3 trial of the drug, while Pfizer will retain responsibility for worldwide commercialization of the compound.

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, occurs in about 69,000 patients in the United States each year, and results in about 9,000 deaths. The number of melanoma cases worldwide is increasing faster than any other cancer.

Pfizer’s investigational drug, tremelimumab (CP675,206), currently in phase 2, is a fully human igG2 monoclonal antibody which has been in development for the treatment of advanced melanoma. In April 2008, Pfizer announced that it had discontinued a phase 3 clinical trial for patients with advanced melanoma after the Data Safety Monitoring Board review of interim data showed that the trial would not demonstrate superiority to standard chemotherapy.

“The continuation of the clinical development of tremelimumab with our partner, Debiopharm, is a demonstration of our commitment to personalized medicine for cancer patients,” said Garry Nicholson, president and GM of Pfizer’s Oncology Business Unit. “Debiopharm is a successful company which has achieved impressive results on a global scale. This co-development partnership is an opportunity to leverage the combined expertise of both companies in this innovative endeavor.”

Financial terms of the co-development agreement between Debiopharm and Pfizer have not been disclosed.

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