With the big American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting coming up in two weeks, anticipation about the coming onslaught of data is mounting. Last night, ASCO released some key abstracts for studies to be presented at the meeting, offering an aperitif to oncology-drug followers. Here is a sampling of news, some from our sister publication FierceBiotech.
Roche got a big boost for its bid to position the leukemia drug GA101 (obinutuzumab) as a next-gen successor to its blockbuster Rituxan, posting late-stage data last night that showed that a combination with chemotherapy performed much better than chemo alone or in combination with Rituxan.
Before the massive ASCO meeting kicks off on May 31, the Swiss drug giant plans to unveil data from a late-stage study of its next-gen antibody GA101, which is heir to the throne occupied by the company and partner Biogen Idec's Rituxan.
Celltrion prematurely ended a Phase III trial for a biosimilar version of Roche's ($RHHBY) big seller Rituxan, but the South Korea-based biotech has plans to revive late-stage development of its copycat candidate in the second half of 2013, BioPharm Insight reported.
Roche faces one less potential copycat competitor to its blockbuster Rituxan franchise. The South Korea-based biotech Celltrion has nixed late-stage development of a biosimilar version of Rituxan, which is expected to face knockoff rivals first in Europe and then in the U.S. in the coming years.
Did Roche do the right thing when it took a pass on biosimilars?
Genentech provided hints that one of the most important experimental cancer drugs in its pipeline performed well in the first part of a two-stage pivotal study in patients on their initial round of treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Oncologists say they're more-or-less ready to start using biosimilar versions of easier-to-mimic therapies such as erythropoiesis-stimulating agents (ESAs), which treat anemia in cancer and kidney patients.
Samsung Electronics has stumbled in its sprint into the biotechnology field. The South Korea-based conglomerate has halted development of a biosimilar version of the blockbuster biologic Rituxan/Mabthera, with the path to develop the knockoff version of the protein drug appearing thornier than some people thought, The Korea Times reported.
Once again, Roche's ($RHHBY) quarterly results are a snapshot of Big Pharma hopes and travails. The Swiss drugmaker pulled off a 4% sales increase to 11.27 billion Swiss francs ($12.1 billion), with help from targeted cancer drugs and diagnostics. Oncology, of course, is one of the industry's most fertile fields, especially for drugs matched to patients with particular genetic quirks.