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Novartis Skin Cancer Drug Combination Involving Spartalizumab Fails Clinical Trial

Novartis Skin Cancer Drug Combination Involving Spartalizumab Fails Clinical Trial

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG (NYSE: NVS) announced Saturday that the phase three COMBI-i trial for a combination of drugs against a type of advanced skin cancer didn't meet the clinical requirements of the evaluation.

What Happened: The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial using Spartalizumab — an investigational monoclonal antibody, alongside Tafinlar and Mekinist.

The company reported that the drug combination was tested on untreated Stage IIIC and Stage IV BRAF V600 mutation-positive cutaneous melanoma patients, but it didn't enhance the progression-free survival.

The evaluation was conducted in three parts and the declared results were from the final stages of testing, Novartis said.

Why It Matters:  The company noted it intended to continue Spartalizumab development, despite negative clinical trial results.

“While the COMBI-i trial did not reach its primary endpoint, the study’s findings give us valuable insights into the role the investigational immunotherapy spartalizumab may play in future cancer therapy combinations and underscore the previously established importance of Tafinlar [and] Mekinist for these patients,” Novartis Chief Medical Officer John Tsai said in a statement.

Novartis-backed Poseida Therapeutics (NASDAQ: PSTX) also announced last week it had halted its prostate cancer drug trial after a patient's death.

Price Action: Novartis shares closed 0.85% lower at $86.40 on Friday. The stock gained 0.09% during extended trading hours, the same day.


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