Your ASCO checklist of news, reviews, interviews and yes, a scandal


CHICAGO--The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual meeting is the biopharma version of Cannes or Sundance: A few days of non-stop premieres and news conferences, sideline interviews and sometimes, scandal. Want to keep track of this year’s ASCO data celebs and reviews? Here’s what you need to know so far.

  • Johnson & Johnson's multiple myeloma med Darzalex won FDA approval last year amid a flurry of green lights for new rival meds. But some new data could give it a marketing boost. The drug held off cancer progression and death in previously treated patients by 61% compared with the standard combo alone, according to Phase III study results that rolled out Sunday. Report
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb's checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo and older immunotherapy Yervoy already have FDA approval to attack melanoma with a one-two punch. Now, the duo have a new use in first-line lung cancer in their sights. Study data showed that 57% of lung cancer patients treated with the combo responded, and that’s more than double the 28% Opdivo had previously posted on its own. Story
  • Roche’s highly anticipated immunotherapy Tecentriq hit the scene just last month as a second-line therapy for bladder cancer--and bigger market in that disease could be on tap soon. In a Phase II study of patients ineligible for standard platinum-based chemo, 24% saw their tumors shrink--and that number went as high as 28% in patients with higher levels of PD-L1 expression. After 14.4 months of follow-up, 75% of responders still had seen no disease progression. News
  • Tecentriq’s advent is a good thing for Roche in light of some other ASCO news: Mylan’s copycat version of its longtime top-seller Herceptin matched the brand in safety and efficacy in treating advanced, HER2-positive breast cancer. That med delivered $6.5 billion to Roche’s top line last year, and Mylan is one of several biosim makers looking to take a piece of that pie. FiercePharma | FierceBiotech
  • AbbVie ($ABBV) got a chance Sunday to start explaining why it paid a whopping $5.8 billion up front--with $4 billion reserved for milestones--for Stemcentrx and its overnight cancer drug sensation Rova-T. The results are still preliminary, but investigators spotlighted results that showed 11 out of 60 (18%) evaluable patients treated with Rova-T (rovalpituzumab tesirine) experienced tumor shrinkage, and 41 (68%) achieved a clinical benefit, clearing the minimum bar for stable disease. The data wasn’t quite good enough to convince market-watchers that the Stemcentrx price was justified. Story
  • The top contenders wrestling for the spotlight reserved for breakout cancer drugs at ASCO this year share a common distinguishing factor: They’re designed to take a novel shot at a new target. And Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, a little-known German biotech backed by billionaire twins, rode that targeting trend straight to the center ring on Sunday. Article
  • Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO) and Kite Pharma ($KITE) have reiterated their ambition to bring CAR-T therapies to market in 2017 following the publication of fresh clinical trial data at ASCO. The stage is now nearly set for a flurry of regulatory filings and decisions over the next year or so as Juno, Kite and Novartis ($NVS) all race to get their CAR-T therapies in front of FDA. Report
  • As for scandal, Immunomedics was barred from its scheduled presentation after ASCO officials discovered that the company had sneaked in some previously presented data on its triple-negative breast cancer drug. That's a violation of the meeting's rules. Nowhere close to Hollywood scandal standards, but it sent the company's shares tumbling. Story

Related Articles:
How can patients get their money's worth from cancer meds? ASCO revamps 'value' tool to help decide
Merck's Keytruda shines in pre-ASCO abstract release, with Pfizer catching the limelight, too
Roche's Tecentriq bursts onto immuno-oncology scene, with Merck and BMS in its sights
Looking to build Darzalex a bigger market, J&J teams up with Roche for atezo combo trials
BMS' Opdivo produces 5-year survival rate for a third of advanced melanoma patients
Roche looks ahead to immuno-oncology, MS to back up big-selling cancer meds