Pfizer has halted a Phase III study of its investigational anti-cancer agent, SU11248, seven months ahead of schedule after it was shown to be safe and effective in the treatment of patients with gastrointestinal stomal tumours resistant to Novartis’ Glivec (imatinib).

The firm said that patients receiving placebo will now be given the option of switching to SU11248. “Pfizer and study investigators are working together to provide SU11248 to those enrolled in the study as quickly as possible and hope this unique therapy will continue to provide meaningful clinical benefit for cancer patients,” said Dr Joseph Feczko, Pfizer president of worldwide development.

SU11248, which works by simultaneously stopping the blood supply and directly attacking the tumour cell, is also being investigated as a potential treatment for kidney cancer.

- Meanwhile, Pfizer has rebuffed speculation that it will be axing as many as 10,000 jobs as premature speculation, according to a Reuters report. The article claims that a Lehman Brothers research note suggested that the world’s largest pharmaceutical company was considering slashing 30% of its salesforce in a bid to drive earnings up by as much as $0.18 per share in 2005. This year, growth at Pfizer will be tempered by the expiry of patents covering several key drugs [[20/01/05a]], [[21/10/04b]].