Cancer trials biggest risk for Pharmas

Late-stage cancer trials are the biggest challenge for pharmaceutical and biotech firms according to data presented at the Biotechnology Industry Organisation’s (BIO) CEO and investor conference in Washington DC, US this week.

The data, from a BIO and BioMedTracker study , showed that cancer trials have only an 11 per cent chance of success, which is the lowest rate for any of the indications examined.

It also showed that such trials have the second lowest success rate at Phase II and the lowest chance at Phase III, which makes them a considerable investment risk for pharmaceutical firms.

Michael Hay, senior biotechnology analyst at Sagient Research Systems.said that: “Oncology drugs have the toughest time making their way through the clinic, despite cancer being the most closely studied area in drug development.

“Having an up-to-date and detailed picture of clinical success rates, and ultimately how likely a drug is to be approved, is vital to our clients when making investment and business decisions. “

The report does not discuss the role contract research in making cancer trials more successful but given the increasing practice of trial research outsourcing this is clearly something to be considered.

Further support for this idea comes from data from the Association of Clinical Research Organisations (ACRO) which shows that, in 2008, 18 per cent of its members were involved in cancer trials.

Within this the most the most common areas of research were: Non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and leukemia.