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Investment in Oncology Drug Development Remains Strong as 133 Companies Initiate Late-Stage Clinical Trials Representing a 21% Increase

NEW YORK, June 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Citeline, the world's leading research authority on pharmaceutical clinical trials and intelligence recently completed a comprehensive review of clinical trial starts in the oncology therapeutic area to uncover trends and patterns in drug development. Over the one-year review period (October 2009 through September 2010) over 400 late stage trials were initiated in the oncology sector, more than any other therapeutic area, according to Citeline analysts.

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Non-small cell lung cancer was the leading disease type, followed closely by breast cancer.  "Notably, trials enrolling multiple hematological cancers and multiple solid tumors came in third and sixth, respectively, among all oncology diseases," commented Dr. Fern Barkalow, Oncology Senior Analyst at Citeline. "These trials represented 10% of the total, which was almost double that of the prior year, suggesting an effort by industry to increase the likelihood of success."

Additional highlights from the Citeline analysis include the following:

  • Hodgkin's lymphoma and supportive care were the only indications that had more Phase III than Phase II trial starts.  
  • Both Merck KGaA and Boehringer Ingelheim had the highest proportions of Phase III to Phase II trial starts.
  • The majority of the trials initiated by the leading five companies evaluated targeted therapies, ranging from 63% to 97% of their trial starts.

Sector sees new entrants

The high level of activity in the oncology therapeutic area was further underlined by the significant number (133) of distinct companies sponsoring new trials in the 12-month period. This represents a 21% increase over the previous year.  Coincident with the increase in the number of sponsors, was a small decrease (16%) in the number of trial starts. "This could be the result of the apparent trend toward testing multiple cancer types together in one Phase II trial," noted Dr. Barkalow.

Twenty companies sponsored more than half of all the new trials during the year. Roche and Novartis initiated nearly twice as many as any other company, with Celgene, Lilly and Pfizer rounding out the top five.

ASCO meeting to highlight trials in progress

The upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) to be held June 3 – 7, 2011 includes a poster session devoted to clinical trials in progress.  Nearly one-third of the abstracts scheduled for presentation in this session involve breast cancer. "This is a great opportunity to highlight features of ongoing trials, such as novel designs, and many of the trials reported in the Citeline trial starts analysis are likely to be included," commented Susan Danheiser, Citeline Senior Director for Oncology & Analytics. "This year again, Citeline will cover the clinical trials presented at the ASCO annual meeting, and it will be interesting to see how the landscape may change."  Multiple solid tumors and breast cancer were the leading areas of investigation for trials of all phases presented at last year's meeting, and Roche was the leading industry sponsor.

To download a full copy of the report, go to  

About Citeline

Citeline ( provides the world's most comprehensive real-time R&D intelligence to the pharmaceutical industry, covering global clinical trial, investigator and drug intelligence. Our data is drawn from over 18,000 unique sources and analyzed by the industry's largest team – over 250 full-time expert analysts and editors.

All company, brand or product names contained in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders.

SOURCE Citeline
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