Fierce Pharma Asia—J&J and Yuhan's lung cancer win; Elevar and Hengrui’s $600M-plus commercialization pact

Johnson & Johnson’s combo of Rybrevant and its Yuhan-partnered lazertinib trumped AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso in a head-to-head lung cancer trial. Elevar Therapeutics will market a Hengrui-partnered liver cancer combo in a deal potentially worth more than $600 million. Seagen and Astellas’ Padcev—combined with Merck’s Keytruda—put on a stellar show in bladder cancer. And more.

1. ESMO: J&J's Rybrevant combo beats Tagrisso on lung cancer progression. Should AZ worry?

Johnson & Johnson’s Rybrevant—combined with its Yuhan-partnered lazertinib—went head-to-head with AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso in the closely watched MARIPOSA trial. J&J’s regimen was able to reduce the risk of disease progression or death by 30% versus Tagrisso in patients with newly diagnosed, EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer. The company will present the full results at the European Society for Medical Oncology 2023 congress.

2. Elevar commits $600M-plus to take Hengrui's liver cancer cocktail to market in US and beyond

Elevar Therapeutics will pay Hengrui Pharmaceuticals up to $600 million in milestones—plus potential royalties—to market the duo’s combination of VEGFR therapy rivoceranib and PD-1 inhibitor camrelizumab worldwide. The deal, which does not cover the greater China region and Korea, could eventually reach a value of $1 billion over 10 years. An FDA decision on the liver cancer combo is slated for May 2024.

3. ESMO: Seagen, Astellas and Merck knock it out of the park with Padcev-Keytruda combo in bladder cancer

Seagen and Astellas’ Padcev—combined with Merck’s star Keytruda—made waves in a phase 3 bladder cancer trial. In a trial of 886 patients, the combination reduced the risk of death by 53% over chemo and similarly cut the risk of disease progression or death by 55%. 

4. Takeda’s stem cell treatment Alofisel flunks phase 3 trial in Crohn's complication

Takeda’s stem cell therapy Alofisel missed the mark in a phase 3 trial testing the treatment in complex perianal fistulas, a debilitating complication of Crohn’s disease. While the company didn’t report the full data, it divulged that Alofisel didn’t meet its primary endpoint of combined remission at 24 weeks. Takeda is continuing to “assess the financial impacts” of the results.

5. Hummingbird’s HER3-targeted ADC entices Endeavor to sign $430M licensing deal

Endeavor BioMedicines hopped on board to license Hummingbird Biosciences’ preclinical HER3-targeted antibody-drug conjugate HMBD-501, committing up to $430 million plus royalties. In exchange, Hummingbird will hand over exclusive worldwide rights to the candidate. Singapore-based Endeavor designed HMB-501 to be a “best in class” HER3 ADC.

6. Takeda ponies up €130M to settle tax linked to distant AbbVie-Shire breakup fee

Takeda will fork over 130 million euros (about $137 million) to resolve a tax assessment from the Irish Revenue Commission. The fee dates back to 2018, when Irish authorities charged Shire 398 million euros in relation to AbbVie’s abandoned takeover bid in 2014. When Takeda bought Shire for $62 billion in 2019, it assumed responsibility for the charge and had been challenging it until the recent settlement.