Fierce Pharma Asia—J&J, Legend's new CAR-T data; Junshi's antiviral tops Pfizer's Paxlovid; Vir, WuXi end COVID pact

Johnson & Johnson and Legend Biotech further padded the case for their BCMA CAR-T therapy Carvykti in multiple myeloma. Junshi Biosciences said a China phase 3 trial has found its oral COVID antiviral, VV116, topped Pfizer's Paxlovid at alleviating symptoms. Meanwhile, WuXi Biologics and Vir Biotechnology have ended their collaboration on the latter's COVID antibody, sotrovimab. And more.

1. ASCO: J&J, Legend reveal more CAR-T data and a look at Carvykti for earlier myeloma in a difficult population

After a median follow-up of 27 months, the phase 1b/2 Cartitude-1 study that won Johnson & Johnson and Legend Biotech’s Carvykti its FDA nod in late-line multiple myeloma is yet to reach the median time to disease progression or death. The companies also offered an updated look at Carvykti’s ability in a small group of patients who had relapsed quickly after first-line treatment.

2. Junshi’s oral COVID drug tops Pfizer’s Paxlovid at accelerating clinical recovery in China trial (release)

Junshi Biosciences said its oral COVID-19 drug VV116 topped Pfizer’s Paxlovid in a phase 3 China trial in mild to moderate patients who are at high risk for progression. Patients on the Junshi drug enjoyed a shorter time to sustained clinical recovery, achieving statistical superiority on the study’s primary endpoint, according to Junshi. The company plans to bring the data to regulators.

3. Vir, WuXi Biologics terminate COVID antibody pact as US rollout faces uncertain future

Meanwhile, WuXi Biologics has returned China rights to Vir Biotechnology’s COVID antibody, sotrovimab. Vir will pay WuXi Bio $7 million to cover development expenses and tiered royalties on any future sales of the drug in the country. The termination comes as pricey antibody drugs aren’t widely utilized for treating COVID patients in China.

4. ASCO: Seagen, Takeda think Adcetris can become a force as a lymphoma combo drug

Seagen’s Adcetris won an FDA approval in newly diagnosed Hodgkin lymphoma in 2018 after showing it could stall disease progression. Now, after a median six-year follow-up, the phase 3 Echelon-1 trial showed the antibody-drug conjugate can save lives compared with old standard combo therapy ABVD. Seagen and Takeda also reported early data of Adcetris in relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

5. ASCO: I-Mab, Junshi's cancer combo performs best as a first-line NSCLC treatment

A combination of Junshi Biosciences’ PD-1 inhibitor toripalimab and I-Mab’s CD73 antibody uliledlimab offered promising early phase 2 data. Among 19 non-small cell lung cancer patients ineligible for existing standard of care, five reported a partial response and nine showed stable disease. 

6. SK Life Science kicks Xcopri sales into high gear with new campaign

SK Life Science is bringing an immersive experience in its “The Shoe Drop” campaign for anti-seizure med Xcopri. Instead of the standard pamphlet or business card, an SK sales rep brings in a box of thick men’s work boots to tell the story of Matt, who saw his annual seizure attacks drop from 24 to zero after getting the drug in a clinical trial.

7. Kyowa Kirin goes for the glow to bring awareness to rare bone disease XLH

Kyowa Kirin rolled out the “Shine a Light on XLH” campaign to continue to raise awareness of rare disease X-linked hypophosphatemia. The company is expanding a previous three-patient project into a light exhibition that features 11 digitally enhanced portraits of people with XLH

8. Not an 'excellent outcome' for Athersys stock as stem cell therapy misses endpoint in Japanese trial

Athersys’ stem cell therapy for stroke failed in a phase 2/3 trial. The MultiStem therapy, also known as invimestrocel, didn’t show a statistically significant achievement of an “excellent outcome” at 90 days compared with placebo, Athersys’ partner Healios found in a trial that enrolled 206 patients in Japan.