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Chi-Med tumor drug benefits patients; trial ended early

Hutchison China MediTech Ltd. said it was stopping early a study of its cancer medicine surufatinib after it was found to benefit patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

The Hong Kong-based company said its oral medicine met the primary endpoint of progression free survival in Chinese patients, helping prevent their disease from getting worse. The medicine was being studied against placebo in a phase 3 clinical trial called Sanet-p, which was conducted in China.

Chi-Med will present full results from the study at an upcoming scientific conference.

Neuroendocrine tumors form in cells that interact with the nervous system or in hormone-producing glands, and may or may not be cancerous. Hutchison said it plans to meet regulators in China to discuss an application for the medicine in the indication.

In China, there were approximately 67,600 newly diagnosed neuroendocrine tumor patients in 2018.

Surufatinib is currently under review in China as a treatment for patients with the non-pancreatic form of neuroendocrine tumors, and Chi-Med said it is building a sales and marketing team to launch the drug in China. It is estimated that approximately 80% of the patients living with neuroendocrine tumors in China are nonpancreatic neuroendocrine tumor patients.

"Surufatinib has the unique opportunity to address all advanced neuroendocrine tumors," Chi-Med CEO Christian Hogg said in a statement. "We believe that no targeted therapies are approved in China or globally for such a broad spectrum of neuroendocrine tumor disease."

Surufatinib holds the orphan-drug designation in the U.S. as a potential treatment for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Chi-Med is planning studies of the medicine in the U.S. and EU based on the results from the Chinese trial.