Synta (SNTA) Plunges on Lung Cancer Drug Results

Joel Anderson  |

Shares in Synta Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SNTA) plunged over 20 percent Monday morning after early results from trials for its potential lung cancer drug failed to show significant results. Meanwhile, presentations at the same conference had a competing drug out of Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) showed very positive results.

Synta was releasing data on the one-year follow-up results of for the Galaxy-1 trial of its lung cancer drug ganetespib Saturday, with plans to present that data at the 2013 World Lung Cancer on Monday. The results for ganetespib were positive, demonstrating extended life span and survival rates. However, it also showed considerably less effect than the drug had demonstrated after 6 months, and in some cases the results were not statistically significant.

The Galaxy-1 study, which randomized 252 patients and compared the effectiveness of ganetespib in combination with docetaxel with a treatment using docetaxel alone, demonstrated a reduction in the risk of death of only 10 percent. Patients treated with both drugs lived for 10.4 months, on average, as compared to 8.4 months for docetaxel alone, again showing less significant results. The six-month results, released in June, showed an 18 percent reduction in the chance of death and an average increase in survival rates of 2.4 months.

The plunging stock price on Monday seemed to show that investors were nonplussed. Synta, though, made every effort to paint the results in a positive light.

“We are encouraged by these results and the implications for Phase 3,” said Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vojo Vukovic. “In addition to confirmation of the choice of patient selection, the results give us useful information for optimizing the GALAXY-2 operational plan and statistical assumptions.”

Bristol-Myers Squibb shares shot up almost 6.25 percent after positive results from its own lung cancer drug as well as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. A two-year update showed a 24 percent survival rate for Bristol-Myers Squibb’s drug, a significant improvement over the initial 14 percent reported at ASCO in June.

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