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J&J drug keeps early prostate cancer from spreading in phase 3 study

Johnson & Johnson's experimental drug Erleada, or apalutamide, reduced the risk of disease spreading or death by 72% versus placebo in men with an early form of prostate cancer.

The phase 3 trial, called Spartan, included more than 1,200 men with nonmetastatic cancer that no longer responded to androgen-deprivation therapy, known as castration-resistant prostate cancer.

Androgen-deprivation therapy, either through surgical removal of the testicles or the use of drugs that suppress testosterone production, is standard treatment for men with prostate cancer that has spread and is also used for cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body.

Patients on Erleada survived for a median of 40.5 months without the disease spreading to other parts of the body, compared with 16.2 months for those taking a placebo.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 164,000 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. in 2018 and expects around 30,000 patients to die from the disease.

Recently, a combination of Pfizer Inc. and Astellas Pharma Inc.'s Xtandi and a standard hormone therapy was shown to reduce the risk of disease progression or death by 71% in men with the disease.

Xtandi is approved to treat patients with advanced prostate cancer that does not respond to hormone therapy.