Background: Axitinib (AG-013736) is a potent and selective oral inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptors 1, 2, and 3, which have an important role in pancreatic cancer. The aim of this study was to assess the safety and efficacy of gemcitabine plus axitinib versus gemcitabine alone.
Methods: Between January and August, 2006, 103 patients with unresectable, locally advanced, or metastatic pancreatic cancer were randomly assigned in a two to one ratio to receive gemcitabine (1000 mg/m(2)) plus axitinib 5 mg twice daily (n=69) or gemcitabine (1000 mg/m(2)) alone (n=34) by a centralised registration system. The primary endpoint was overall survival. Analyses were done by intention to treat. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00219557.
Findings: All randomised patients were included in the efficacy analyses. Median overall survival was longer with gemcitabine plus axitinib than with gemcitabine alone (6.9 [95% CI 5.3-10.1] months vs 5.6 [3.9-8.8] months). The hazard ratio for survival with gemcitabine plus axitinib versus with gemcitabine alone, adjusted for stratification factors, was 0.71 (95% CI 0.44-1.13). The most common grade 3 or worse adverse events were fatigue (15 [22%] patients in the gemcitabine plus axitinib group vs one [3%] in the gemcitabine alone group), abdominal pain (eight [12%] vs five [16%]), and asthenia (eight [12%] vs one [3%]).
Interpretation: Gemcitabine plus axitinib showed a similar safety profile to gemcitabine alone; the small, non-statistically significant gain in overall survival needs to be assessed in a randomised phase III trial.