Lilly says possible cancer drug meets study goals

INDIANAPOLIS -- Eli Lilly and Co. said a potential stomach cancer treatment met goals for improved patient survival and progression-free survival when compared to a dummy treatment in a late-stage clinical study.

Shares of the Indianapolis drug developer climbed 3 percent, or $1.52, to $51.97 in Monday morning trading after the company released the report. That outpaced a slight advance by broad trading indexes like the Standard & Poor's 500.

Lilly said it studied the performance of its treatment, labeled ramucirumab, and a placebo as second treatments in patients with gastric and gastroesophageal junction cancers that have spread.

Gastric cancer affects the stomach lining and often goes undetected while developing slowly, Lilly said. Gastroesophageal junction cancer forms where the esophagus connects to the stomach.

Progression-free survival measures the time before a disease progresses or the patient in the study dies.

Lilly said it will share details from its study at an upcoming scientific meeting, and it will talk to regulators about plans to submit the drug for approval. A company spokeswoman said it was too early to speculate on the specifics of that submission.

Lilly also is studying ramucirumab in combination with the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel in a separate, late-stage trial that completed patient enrollment last month.

The drugmaker acquired ramucirumab through its 2008 acquisition of ImClone Systems Inc. Ramucirumab has no approved uses yet, but Lilly also is studying it in late-stage testing as a potential treatment for breast, colorectal and lung cancers.