Merck Serono, a division of Merck, Darmstadt, Germany, presented detailed results from the Phase III EXPAND* trial, at the ESMO 2012 Congress (European Society for Medical Oncology) in Vienna, Austria, September 28 - October 2, 2012. First results of this study were already announced in July 2012.

The results of the Phase III EXPAND trial showed that Erbitux® (cetuximab) in combination with capecitabine and cisplatin did not meet its primary endpoint, progression free survival, in patients with advanced gastric or gastro-esophageal junction cancer compared with chemotherapy alone.1 (HR 1.091, 95% CI 0.92-1.29; p = 0.316). The trial randomized 904 patients, to weekly Erbitux plus 3-week cycles of chemotherapy (n=455) or chemotherapy alone (n=449).1 The patients treated with Erbitux plus chemotherapy showed no new or unexpected safety findings and safety profiles were consistent with those known for the respective agents.1

"With few treatment choices and poor prognosis, these results are of course disappointing for patients and healthcare professionals alike. As a company we continue to invest in oncology research and development to find new treatments for diseases with such high unmet medical need," said Dr. Annalisa Jenkins, Head of Global Drug Development and Medical for Merck Serono.

Importantly, the results do not alter the proven utility of Erbitux in its already approved indications in metastatic colorectal cancer and squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

*EXPAND: Erbitux in combination with Xeloda and cisPlatin in AdvaNceD esophago-gastric cancer