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Merck KGaA-Pfizer to end late-stage ovarian cancer treatment study

(Reuters) – Merck KGaA and Pfizer Inc said on Friday they were ending a late-stage study for their drug to treat a form of ovarian cancer in previously untreated patients.

The results showed the drug, Bavencio, in combination with, or as a follow-on treatment to, platinum-based chemotherapy could not achieve the primary goal of progression-fee survival in patients.

Last year, Bavencio, or avelumab, failed to prolong lives in a separate trial to evaluate the immunotherapy in gastric cancer patients.

Earlier this year, the drug did not show improvement in survival in lung cancer patients who had previously undergone unsuccessful chemotherapy.

The setbacks come at a time when the drug is competing against other immunotherapy cancer drugs such as Merck & Co’s Keytruda, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo.

Every year, more than 295,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer worldwide and the disease is generally advanced when it is diagnosed, as it often has few to no symptoms at the early stages.

Merck KGaA shares closed down 0.26 percent on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange at 93.36 euro, while those of Pfizer rose about 1 percent to $42.34.

Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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