After spending 12 years and $425 millions of dollars in a so far unsuccessful quest to win FDA approval of Oncophage, tiny AntigenicsÂ found an unlikely way to the market. Russian regulators have approved the kidney cancer vaccine, a world first. Unlike traditional vaccines, cancer vaccines are being developed to treat an existing disease rather than prevent one by spurring the immune system to attack cancer cells. Oncophage had failed a late-stage trial intended to demonstrate that it could prevent the recurrence of kidney cancer after surgery. In a reanalysis of the data, though, Antigenics found that a subset of patients with lower-stage tumors did see a much lower rate of recurrence. Meanwhile, Dendreon and Cell Genesys will compete for the right to have the first cancer vaccine approved in the U.S.
Writing in his blog, Antigenics CEO Garo Armen (photo) outlined the company's plans to begin commercializing the world's first approved cancer vaccine in Russia. "The initial launch will focus on approximately 10 hospitals, classified as "centers of excellence" and located in Moscow and St. Petersburg," he writes. "These hospitals attract both private patients as well as patients whose drugs are paid for by governmental reimbursement programs. The majority of our marketing efforts will concentrate on adding to these influential hospitals by targeting more centers across Russia throughout 2008 and beyond."
PLUS: Antigenics swiftly lined up $30 million to begin the effort. Release
Antigenics gets world's first cancer vaccineÂ approval
Big Pharma takes an interest in cancer vaccines
Antigenics'Â cancer vax gets mixed Phase III results
Antigenics reports positive data in brain cancer
AntigenicsÂ slashes staff in bid to conserve cash