US company, Ligand, lost almost a third of its market value yesterday after the firm revealed that its anti-cancer agent, Targretin (bexarotene), had failed to meet its primary endpoint in two pivotal Phase III non-small cell lung cancer clinical trials.

The studies had aimed to determine whether adding Targretin to standard front-line chemotherapy regimens extended survival in NSCLC patients.

The company, which said it was “very disappointed” with the lack of survival advantage when Targretin was added to treatment, will continue to analyse the data and plans to make a detailed scientific presentation at upcoming scientific conferences.

Targretin was approved by the US regulatory agency back in December 1999 for the treatment of lymphoma, and won the European green light in 2001. Ligand says it will continue to evaluate the product’s potential in second- and third-line NSCLC.