Amgen's Kyprolis, J&J's Darzalex team up on myeloma survival win

Amgen's Kyprolis generated $512 million in sales through the first six months of the year. (Amgen)

After years of slow growth, Amgen’s Kyprolis finally looks poised to break the blockbuster barrier in 2019, and new data in tandem with the multiple myeloma field’s hottest drug could help boost it even further.

Adding Johnson & Johnson’s Darzalex to a combination of Kyprolis and the steroid dexamethasone cut patients’ risk of disease progression or death by 37% compared with Kyprolis and dexamethasone alone, the Big Biotech said.

Patients treated with the Kyprolis-dexamethasone duo, commonly referred to as Kd, lived a median 15.8 months without their disease worsening, while the median for patients on the cocktail including Darzalex hadn’t yet been reached.

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The results pave the way for Kyprolis use alongside Darzalex, a drug that’s seen massive success since its debut as a fourth-line treatment back in late 2015. It racked up $2.03 billion in sales last year after snagging an indication in previously untreated patients—the first ever for a monoclonal antibody.

But despite Darzalex’s quick rise, Amgen execs have maintained that the drug isn’t so much a threat to Kyprolis’ sales as an opportunity. In 2016, after Kyprolis missed its second-quarter sales targets, then-commercial chief Tony Hooper reassured investors that the meds would ultimately join forces.

RELATED: Amgen kicks off 2018 with double the good news for slow-growing Kyprolis

The Kd regimen, meanwhile, has breathed some much-needed life into Kyprolis sales since Amgen added the indication to the drug’s label early last year. Kyprolis—which the company bagged in its 2013 buyout of Onyx Pharmaceuticals—ended 2018 with $968 million in global sales, and it amassed $512 million through the first six months of 2019.