AbbVie's Imbruvica, Amgen's Kyprolis shine at annual ASH meeting

Novartis ($NVS) grabbed plenty of attention at this year's American Society of Hematology annual meeting with new data on its candidate CAR-T treatment, but already-approved drugs had their time in the sun, too. AbbVie ($ABBV) and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Imbruvica and Amgen's ($AMGN) Kyprolis were among the headline-makers this weekend, rolling out data that could lead to earlier use in their respective disease settings. Here's a look at some of the meeting's biggest stories:

  • AbbVie has said it expects to haul in $7 billion in peak sales for Imbruvica, and new data in previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients aged 65 and older could help it move one step closer. In a trial of 269 sufferers, the med cut the risk of death by 85% compared with chemo treatment chlorambucil. After 18 months--close to the median progression-free survival marker for chlorambucil--90% of Imbruvica patients had not yet seen their disease worsen. AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson, which share the drug, are hoping the results will help Imbruvica snag an indication as a first-line treatment in the disease, and they're expecting an FDA decision on that front early next year. Release

  • Amgen, working hard to gain traction with myeloma drug Kyprolis, has new data supporting its use as a backbone therapy in the disease. The combination of the med with dexamethasone topped the standard of care--Takeda's Velcade with dexamethasone--in terms of battling disease progression in patients with relapsed or refractory forms of the disease. "This week's presentations show that even in difficult-to-treat populations, Kyprolis significantly extends the time patients can live without their disease progressing and improves the depth and duration of a response, compared to current standard of care therapies," Amgen R&D Chief Sean Harper said in a statement. Release

  • Roche ($RHHBY) has been seeking to position follow-up Gazyva as superior to blockbuster Rituxan in patients with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and it unveiled new data at ASH to further that goal. Gazyva plus chlorambucil cut the risk of disease worsening or death by more than half compared to the combo of chlorambucil and its older drug, the Swiss pharma said. And after finishing the 6-month Gazyva regimen, patients remained treatment-free for almost four years on average before needing their next cancer treatment. Release

  • Merck ($MRK) is racing to rack up a spate of indications for checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda, which is battling it out with Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) Opdivo in the in immuno-oncology marketplace. And now, a Phase I study has shown promise for the cancer-fighter in patients with multiple myeloma when added to the standard treatment regimen--Celgene's ($CELG) Revlimid and dexamethasone. The med provoked a meaningful response in 13 of the 17 trial patients available for evaluation, with four showing a decrease of at least 90% in the level of abnormal proteins in the blood. Release

For news out of the meeting on up-and-coming therapies, check out FierceBiotech's coverage here and here.

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