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Novartis discontinues ASA404 clinical trial program and shifts focus to other cancer compounds in early and late stage development


* Interim results from Phase III trial show ASA404 failed to meet primary endpoint of extending survival for the second-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer
* Related impairment charges of approximately USD 120 million to be taken in fourth quarter 2010

Basel - Novartis announced today that the clinical trial program for the investigational cancer treatment ASA404 (vadimezan) will be discontinued and resources will be reallocated to other compounds in the oncology pipeline. The decision was made after interim results from a Phase III trial showed that ASA404 would not likely meet the primary endpoint of significantly extending overall survival when used in combination with chemotherapy for the second-line treatment of patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

The study, called ATTRACT-2 (Antivascular Targeted Therapy: Researching ASA404 in Cancer Treatment), included patients with advanced (stage IIIb/IV) NSCLC of squamous or nonsquamous histology who experienced disease progression on or following an initial chemotherapy regimen. The trial has been stopped early based on a recommendation from an independent data monitoring committee. Investigators involved in the study and regulatory agencies have been notified of the decision to stop the trial. Novartis does not plan to proceed with regulatory filings based on these data.

An intangible asset impairment charge of approximately USD 120 million will be taken in the fourth quarter of 2010 in the Novartis Pharmaceuticals division.

About ASA404
ASA404 (vadimezan) is a tumor-vascular disrupting agent (tumor-VDA). Novartis signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Antisoma plc for the worldwide rights to ASA404 in April 2007. In March 2010, ASA404 also failed to meet the primary endpoint in the ATTRACT-1 trial, which evaluated ASA404 in combination with paclitaxel and carboplatin as first-line treatment for advanced (stage IIIb/IV) NSCLC of squamous or nonsquamous histology.

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About Novartis
Novartis provides healthcare solutions that address the evolving needs of patients and societies. Focused solely on healthcare, Novartis offers a diversified portfolio to best meet these needs: innovative medicines, cost-saving generic pharmaceuticals, preventive vaccines, diagnostic tools and consumer health products. Novartis is the only company with leading positions in these areas. In 2009, the Group’s continuing operations achieved net sales of USD 44.3 billion, while approximately USD 7.5 billion was invested in R&D activities throughout the Group. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Novartis Group companies employ approximately 100.000 full-time-equivalent associates and operate in more than 140 countries around the world. For more information, please visit


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