Wyeth Pharmaceuticals has dumped a Phase III trial programme assessing a combination of its temsirolimus oral tablets with Novartis’ Femara (letrozole) against Femara alone for the first-line treatment of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. The move follows a recommendation by an independent data monitoring committee, which found that the study, christened HORIZON, was unlikely to show that the combination therapy is better than Femara alone in treating the disease.

“While not the anticipated outcome, it is unfortunately not unusual for cancer drugs to work in some tumour types and not others, or even work in only some specific subpopulations of cancer patients,” explained says Gary L Stiles, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

But he stated that the group remains “committed to studying temsirolimus in other cancer indications,” and the company said that current Phase III trials of intravenous temsirolimus in renal cell carcinoma and mantle cell lymphoma are to continue as planned.