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Lilly stomach cancer drug extends survival vs placebo

(Reuters) - Eli Lilly and Co's stomach cancer drug ramucirumab met its primary goal of improving overall survival in a late stage-study, extending the lives of patients for more than a month longer than those who received a placebo, the American Society of Clinical Oncology said on Tuesday.

The overall survival among patients treated with the Lilly drug in the study was 5.2 months, compared with 3.8 months for those who received a placebo.

However, some analysts were looking for a survival benefit greater than two months from the monoclonal antibody.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker previously said ramucirumab met its main goal of improving overall survival, but the extent of the benefit was not revealed earlier.

The injectable drug, which Lilly acquired in its purchase of ImClone Systems Inc four years ago, is also undergoing late-stage trials for cancers of the breast, colon, lung and liver. A study of the drug in combination with chemotherapy for treating stomach cancer is also under way.

In the data released Tuesday at an ASCO meeting, the drug also improved survival without the cancer worsening in patients who had failed to respond to earlier drug therapy. Progression-free survival was 2.1 months for ramucirumab, compared with 1.3 months for patients who got the placebo.

Lilly is in need of new products to offset plunging sales of its Zyprexa schizophrenia medicine and other drugs facing generic competition.

(Reporting By Susan Kelly in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

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