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Incyte pancreatic cancer drug improves survival in mid-stage trial

(Reuters) - Incyte Corp reported an improved survival rate in patients most likely to benefit from its experimental pancreatic cancer treatment, Jakafi, sending the company's shares up 30 percent to its highest in almost 13 years.

Analysts said the data from a mid-stage trial suggested that the drug, already approved in the U.S. to treat a form of blood cancer, can work in a late-stage pancreatic cancer study, as well as on other cancerous tumors.

Among the subgroup of patients identified as most likely to benefit from the treatment, the six month survival rate of patients getting Jakafi along with chemotherapy was 42 percent.

The survival rate was 11 percent for the subgroup of patients treated with chemotherapy alone.

"We are encouraged by this data and model for peak U.S./E.U. sales in pancreatic cancer of $514 million in 2023," Canaccord Genuity analyst Salveen Richter wrote in a note.

The combination of Jakafi, generically known as ruxolitinib, and chemotherapy drug, capecitabine, was generally well tolerated in the study.

Among the patients receiving the combination therapy, 12 percent discontinued treatment for an adverse event, compared with a 20 percent rate among patients who received capecitabine alone.

Jakafi is already approved in the United States to treat intermediate or high-risk myelofibrosis, a form of blood cancer.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG markets the drug outside the U.S., where it is sold under the brand name of Jakavi.

Incyte earned $54.1 million from Jakafi sales for the second quarter and expects 2013 revenues of about $220 million to $230 million, excluding any royalties from Novartis.

The National Cancer Institute, a part of National Institutes of Health, estimates that 38,460 people will die of pancreatic cancer in 2013 while 45,220 people will be diagnosed with the disease in the same period.

Incyte's shares were up 29 percent at $34.49 in morning trade. They earlier touched a high of $34.98 on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Esha Dey and Pallavi Ail in Bangalore; Editing by Savio D'Souza)

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