Amgen Inc. and partner Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. said they suspended a clinical trial of their experimental cancer drug motesanib because of higher deaths among patients getting the medicine.

Motesanib was being used in a late-stage test as an initial treatment with chemotherapy for non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of the disease, Thousand Oaks-based Amgen and Japan-based Takeda said in a statement. The companies suspended the trial after an independent monitoring committee's planned safety data review of 600 patients found higher early mortality rates among those receiving the drug compared with those getting a placebo, according to the statement.

The drug is one of two Amgen treatments in the third and final stage of human tests generally required for U.S. regulatory approval, said Christine Regan, an Amgen spokeswoman, today in a telephone interview. Motesanib seeks to block a protein known as VEGF, involved in the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors.

& #8226; Read the full Bloomberg News story.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.