Two biotechnology companies are registering impressive data in each of their own pancreatic cancer trials, so impressive in fact, the NYSE's Eli Lilly is surely feeling its long time reign as the current standard single-drug treatment for the disease being threatened. Nuvilex, Inc. and NASDAQ's Celgene Corp. are the two biotech firms applying the heat.
One thing is for sure -- pancreatic cancer drugs are big business. Eli Lilly & Co.'s sales of its blockbuster cancer drug gemcitabine (Gemzar®) have averaged close to $1.5-billion per year globally since its approval back in 1996. Gemzar is the only drug approved by the FDA as a single agent for the treatment of advanced, inoperable pancreatic cancer. According to Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, Gemzar is a nucleoside analogue that interferes with the process of DNA production; thereby preventing cancer cells from replicating and, in turn, slows or stops tumor growth. The drug is the worldwide standard of care as a single agent for pancreatic cancer, and it is the "base" upon which combination chemotherapy treatments for the disease is being built.
While Gemzar has been the go-to treatment for pancreatic cancer patients for years that might be about ready to change, and the best news of all will be for those who suffer from the tough to treat disease and are in desperate need for better therapies. Both Nuvilex and Celgene are producing better data with their treatments in clinical trials as compared to the data offered up by Gemzar.