Fierce Pharma Asia—Lilly's COVID-19 antibody results, Asahi Kasei deal; Takeda's EGFR lung cancer data

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Eli Lilly, Junshi Biosciences, Asahi Kasei Pharma and Takeda made our news this week. (Google)

Eli Lilly said its two-drug COVID-19 antibody cocktail could prevent hospitalization or death among high-risk patients. The Indianapolis pharma in-licensed a neuroinflammatory pain candidate from Asahi Kasei Pharma for $20 million upfront. Takeda's new tyrosine kinase inhibitor mobocertinib reported positive phase 1/2 results in non-small cell lung cancer with the rare EGFR exon 20 insertions. And more.

1. Lilly antibody combo slashed COVID-19 deaths, hospitalizations in high-risk patients

Eli Lilly said its COVID-19 antibody cocktail of bamlanivimab and etesevimab cut the risk of hospitalization or death among high-risk patients by 70% in a phase 3 study. Lilly got bamlanivimab from AbCellera and etesevimab from China’s Junshi Biosciences. However, to rain on Lilly’s parade, a Columbia University team found the combo couldn’t neutralize the highly transmissible B.1.351 variant of the coronavirus in the lab.

2. Lilly lands clinical-phase pain drug via deal with Asahi Kasei

Lilly paid Asahi Kasei Pharma $20 million upfront for rights to P2X7 receptor antagonist AK1780 in markets outside Japan and China. The drug holds promise in neuroinflammatory pain conditions and recently completed phase 1 studies. Along the way, the Japanese firm could receive up to $210 million in development and regulatory milestones and another $180 million tied to sales.

3. WCLC: Takeda's new kinase inhibitor curbs 78% of lung cancers with rare EGFR mutation

Takeda showed its tyrosine kinase inhibitor mobocertinib curbed tumor growth in 78% of 114 previously treated patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with EGFR exon 20 insertions in a phase 1/2 trial. This tumor abnormality accounts for about 10% of all EGFR mutations. Currently, AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso and Genentech’s Tarceva are meant for other more prevalent types of EGFR mutations.

4. BeiGene, Novartis' PD-1 tislelizumab beats chemotherapy in esophageal cancer

BeiGene’s PD-1 inhibitor tislelizumab beat physician’s choice chemotherapy at helping previously treated esophageal cancer patients live longer. The phase 3 success marked the second global pivotal trial win for the drug, which Novartis just in-licensed in a deal worth up to $2.2 billion. A global phase 3 testing tislelizumab alongside chemotherapy in previously untreated patients could read out later this year.

5. WCLC: AstraZeneca, Daiichi Sankyo's Enhertu shows more phase 2 lung cancer promise

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo’s Enhertu spurred a response in 24.5% of heavily pretreated patients with HER2-overexpressing non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in the phase 2 DESTINY-Lung01 study. Previously, the antibody-drug conjugate reported a 61.9% tumor shrinkage rate in the broader HER2-mutant NSCLC cases in the same trial. About 2% to 4% of NSCLC patients have HER2 mutations, and the over-expression population makes up one-third of those.

6. Sun Pharma goes for humor with a feather duster to the face in first Cequa DTC campaign for dry eyes

Sun Pharma is launching a multimedia DTC campaign for dry eye treatment Cequa. The ad, called “Battle Back,” draws a feather duster stuck to the face of a woman driving a car to get the message across about the discomfort of dry eyes. The lighthearted ad came after Sun conducted significant qualitative and quantitative market research to determine patients’ reactions.