Enthusiasm has greeted the news that Pfizer is in talks with a consortium, led by London & Metropolitan International Developments, for its site in Sandwich, UK.

The drugs giant announced almost a year ago that the facility, which employed 2,400 people, would close but in June stated that 350 staff would be retained to support the development of products in the mid- and late- stage pipeline. Then, in November, Pfizer declared that a further 300 jobs at the re-named Sandwich Discovery Park would be saved.

Now the company has issued a statement saying that following a structured selection process, it has entered into "a period of legal exclusivity" with the consortium led by London & Metropolitan "and financed by a major European institutional real estate investor" for the sale of the campus in Sandwich. Pfizer says the talks mark "a positive milestone in the transition of Discovery Park to becoming an R&D-led multiple-use campus with 'enterprise zone' status.

Inlyta approved in USA for advanced kidney cancer

Meantime Pfizer also announced that the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Inlyta (axitinib) to treat patients with advanced kidney cancer who have not responded to first-line treatments.

The thumbs-up for the kinase inhibitor is based on data from the Phase III AXIS trial, which demonstrated that Inlyta, extended progression-free survival by 6.7 months compared with Bayer/Onyx's Nexavar (sorafenib), which extended PFS by 4.7 months. The approval was expected, given that in December the FDA's Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee voted unanimously (13 to 0) that data for the pill, which is taken twice a day, support a favourable benefit/risk profile.

Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, noted that Inlyta is the seventh drug approved for dvanced renal cell carcinoma since 2005. He said that “collectively, this unprecedented level of drug development within this time period has significantly altered the treatment paradigm of metastatic kidney cancer, and offers patients multiple treatment options.”

Of the other six, Pfizer already markets two, namely Sutent (sunitinib; approved in 2006) and Torisel (temsirolimus; 2007). The others are Nexavar (2005), Novartis' Afinitor (everolimus), Roche's Avastin (bevacizumab ) and GlaxoSmithKline's Votrient (pazopanib); the last three were approved by the FDA in 2009.

FDA accepts bosutinib for review

Pfizer also said that the US Food and Drug Administration has accepted its New Drug Application for a standard review of bosutinib as a treatment option for adult patients with previously-treated Philadelphia chromosome positive (Ph+) chronic myeloid leukaemia. It has already been filed in Europe.