One in 4 cancer patients given Amgen Inc.'s Aranesp anemia drug in a study died after 19 weeks, a rate about 5 percentage points higher than among those on a placebo, a finding likely to make doctors more cautious about the product.
Researchers released new details Monday about the study of 851 cancer patients. The mortality rate was 49% after two years, compared with 46% for the placebo, the scientists said in Los Angeles. The drug failed to reach the goal of reducing blood transfusions, according to the report.
Aranesp is already the world's top-selling drug to treat anemia. The trial, however, may prevent Thousand Oaks-based Amgen from winning U.S. approval to market the product for use by cancer patients who are not receiving chemotherapy, as distinct from those with anemia induced by such treatment.