Cephalon Inc. today said its drug candidate lestaurtinib missed its goal in a clinical trial, as the drug did not improve survival for leukemia patients compared with standard chemotherapy.

Cephalon, Frazer, said patients who took lestaurtinib and chemotherapy had similar response levels to the standard chemotherapy patients, meaning both groups were about equally likely to see their tumors shrink or disappear.

But the drug didn't produce greater overall survival. The mid stage study tested the drug in patients who had acute myelogenous leukemia.

The patients had previously been treated and achieved a remission, but their cancer had since returned.

The drug is intended to cause cell death and stop abnormal blood cells and platelets from growing and spreading in bone marrow and the rest of the body.

Cephalon said it will present results from the trial at a future medical meeting.

Shares were up $1.67, or about 3 percent, to $59.20 in afternoon trading.   - AP