Pfizer's breast cancer-fighter Ibrance posts stellar second-line survival data

CHICAGO--Last month, Pfizer ($PFE) announced it had cut short its PALOMA-3 trial thanks to impressive second-line data for new cancer-fighter Ibrance. And now, industry-watchers have a glimpse into those data, announced Saturday at ASCO.

Adding Ibrance to AstraZeneca's ($AZN) Faslodex more than doubled progression-free survival time, staving off breast cancer advancement by about 5 months in women with previously treated, estrogen-receptor-positive but HER2-negative forms of the disease. At the time of the interim analysis, the average time to disease progression was 9.2 months, compared with 3.8 months in the placebo arm.

While Evercore ISI analyst Mark Schoenebaum said back in April that the second-line data wouldn't do much to boost Ibrance sales estimates--most patients will receive Ibrance as a first-line treatment--it does "add to what already appears a strong early launch," he wrote to investors.

That launch came sooner than expected, with the FDA in February signing off on Ibrance more than two months ahead of its decision deadline. And as Pfizer execs told shareholders on the company's Q1 conference call, the pharma giant has made good use of its extra time on the market.

Pfizer's Albert Bourla

More than 800 healthcare practitioners had prescribed the med as of late April, tallying about 3,000 total scripts to that point, Albert Bourla--Pfizer's president of its Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer division--told investors. Two thousand patients had already initiated treatment, bring Ibrance's first-line market share to 10%.

All of that resulted in a $38 million Q1 sales haul, which topped the $35 million analysts forecast and had CEO Ian Read feeling "extremely pleased." No surprise there--the oncology revenues are important for Pfizer, which is working to beef up each of its operating units ahead of a potential split-up.

And even though a future label expansion based on the PALOMA-3 data can't do much to pad those sales figures, the data can add "to the level of confidence in the mechanics of action," Bourla said.

- read the release

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