Everything's Coming Up Roches
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Stronger First Quarter Sales Help Roche, But ASCO Probably Matters More
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Poor Pipeline Productivity Has Left Roche More Vulnerable
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Stephen Simpson, CFA
Jun. 26, 2015, 10:48 AM
- The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopts a positive opinion recommending approval for Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY +0.1%) Perjeta (pertuzumab), in combination with Herceptin (trastuzumab) and chemotherapy, for the neoadjuvant treatment (before surgery) of adult patients with HER2-positive, locally advanced, inflammatory or early stage breast cancer at high risk of recurrence. A final decision by the European Commission usually takes ~60 days.
- This is the first CHMP recommendation in the neoadjuvant setting based on pathological complete response (pCR), which means that there was no evidence of tumor tissue detectable at the time of surgery in the affected breast and local lymph nodes. In a mid-stage trial, called NeoSphere, almost 40% of patients receiving Perjeta + Herceptin + taxane chemo showed a pCR compared to 21.5% of patients who received Herceptin and taxane alone.
- There are ~100K cases of HER2-positive breast cancer diagnosed in Europe each year. Breast cancers that are positive for HER2 (human epidermal growth factor receptor 2) are more aggressive than those negative for the oncogene.
- The FDA approved Perjeta for this indication in September 2013. The agency approved it in 2012 for advanced late-stage HER2-positive breast cancer.
Jun. 23, 2015, 7:46 AM
- Data from a Phase 1 extension study show that patients with severe hemophilia A who received a once-weekly subcutaneous injection of Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) humanized bispecific antibody ACE910 experienced significant reductions in bleeding events for up to 18.5 months. The data were presented yesterday at the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis annual meeting in Toronto, Canada.
- Patients were divided into three ACE910 dose-related cohorts: 0.3 mg/kg, 1 mg/kg and 3 mg/kg. Maximum reductions in annualized bleeding rates for the three arms in patients not receiving factor VIII inhibitors were 82.7%, 100% and 100%, respectively. The maximum reduction for patients receiving factor VIII inhibitors was 100% in all three arms. The follow up periods were 5.6 - 18.5 months. A total of 18 patients were involved.
- The company intends to start a Phase 3 study in patients with Factor VIII inhibitors by the end of the year and another Phase 3 study in patients without Factor VIII inhibitors in 2016.
- ACE910 is an investigational humanized FVIIIa-mimetic bispecific monoclonal antibody engineered to simultaneously bind factors IXa and X, thereby mimicking the cofactor function of factor VIII. Roche obtained the rights from Chugai Pharmaceutical in 2014.
Jun. 22, 2015, 2:09 PM
- In an effort to simplify the complex statistics behind cancer drugs, a group of U.S. oncologists has devised a 0 to 100 rating scale that aims to assess a drug's overall benefit (extend life or delay cancer progression) versus its potential side effects. The scale to rate drugs used for advanced cancers goes up to 130. The ultimate goal is to put the data in a user-friendly mobile software app that doctors can use at the bedside. The scale was published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
- How did some leading drugs fare? Well, not so good. A regimen including Eli Lilly's (LLY +0.5%) Alimta (pemetrexed), which costs ~$9,200/month, rated a big fat zero. Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY +1.8%) Herceptin (trastuzumab) scored the highest at 48, but Avastin (bevacizumab), which costs almost $12,000/month, only managed a score of 16, as did Sanofi's (SNY +4.7%) Jevtana (cabazitaxel).
- Scores cannot be compared against each other since the ratings are based on older drugs that the newer ones were tested against in clinical studies. Also, drug costs are not directly included.
- ASCO is now soliciting comments on the proposed system. Representatives from the drugs and insurance industries provided input into the design of the scale.
Jun. 17, 2015, 8:15 AM
- Results from a Phase 1 single ascending dose study in 40 healthy volunteers of Prothena's (NASDAQ:PRTA) monoclonal antibody for the potential treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD), PRX002, demonstrated mean reductions of free serum alpha-synuclein of up to 96%. The results were highly statistically significant (p<0.00001). No serious adverse events or hypersensitivity reactions were reported. The highest dose administered was 30 mg/kg.
- Alpha-synuclein is a protein found in the blood, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and the brain. PD patients have decreased levels of the protein in the CSF, believed to be due to the accumulation of pathogenic alpha-synuclein in the brain which plays a role in neurodegeneration.
- A Phase 1 multiple ascending dose trial in PD patients is ongoing.
- Prothena established a global collaboration with Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) in December 2013 to develop and commercialize alpha-synuclein-targeting antibodies, including PRX002. To date, Prothena has received $45M of the potential $600M in milestones specified in the agreement. Prothena has the option to co-promote PRX002 in the U.S. where the companies will share the development and commercial costs and profits on a 30/70 basis (PRTA: 30%; Roche: 70%). Roche as exclusive rights ex-U.S. and will pay Prothena up to double-digit royalties on commercial sales.
Jun. 15, 2015, 6:52 PM
- Relatively recent IPO Avalanche Biotechnologies (NASDAQ:AAVL) craters 40% after hours on robust volume in response to its announcement of top-line results from a Phase 2a study assessing its lead product candidate, AVA-101, in patients with wet age-related macular degeneration (wet AMD). The primary endpoint of the trial was safety, but secondary efficacy measures have apparently disappointed investors despite the study not being powered to show statistical significance.
- The trial enrolled 32 wet AMD patients at least 55 years old. They were randomized to receive AVA-101 (n=21) or control (n=11). Both arms received two ranibizumab injections [Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) Lucentis] at day 0 and week 4. Almost all (n=29/32) had received prior anti-VEGF therapy with a median of 10 prior injections.
- The mean change in best corrected visual acuity (BCVA) from baseline in the AVA-101 cohort was +2.2 letters compared to -9.3 letters for control. In addition, 42.9% of patients (n=9/21) receiving AVA-101 improved or maintained stable vision with two or fewer rescue injections compared to 9.1% (n=1/11) for control. BCVA improvement of at least 10 letters with no more than two rescue injections occurred in 23.8% of the AVA-101 arm versus 0% in control.
- The modest average letter gain for the AVA-101 arm is substantially less than published studies of Eylea and Lucentis, which have demonstrated mean improvements in BCVA scores of 18.9 letters and 14.2 letters, respectively. If the difference persists in subsequent studies, then Regeneron will be less likely to take advantage of its right of first negotiation for the rights to AVA-101.
- The value proposition of AVA-101, a gene therapy that contains a gene that encodes a naturally occurring anti-VEGF protein, is a single subretinal injection compared intravitreal (inside the eye) injections as frequent as once per month for Regeneron's (NASDAQ:REGN) Eylea and Roche's Lucentis.
Jun. 10, 2015, 7:31 AM
- The FDA designates Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) ACTEMRA/RoACTEMRA a Breakthrough Therapy for the treatment of systemic sclerosis, a rare degenerative connective tissue disease caused by the overproduction of collagen and characterized by scarring in the skin, joints and internal organs. A Phase 3 study has been initiated (NCT02453256) for the indication.
- ACTEMRA/RoACTEMRA is a humanized anti-interleukin 6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist monoclonal antibody that is currently approved for the treatment of adult patients with rheumatoid arthritis who have not responded to DMARD (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs) therapy and pediatric patients with polyarticular or systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. IL-6 is a pro-inflammatory cytokine that is secreted by T cells to stimulate an immune response.
- Breakthrough Therapy status provides for more intensive guidance from the FDA on a development path, the involvement of more senior agency personnel and a rolling review of the New Drug Application (NDA).
Jun. 5, 2015, 8:15 AM
- The FDA approves Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) cobas HSV 1 and 2 test for the direct detection and differentiation of herpes simplex virus DNA in anogenital specimens.
- The agency also clears the cobas direct Cdiff test to detect Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) in stool specimens.
- The cobas system is an automated laboratory analyzer that performs a wide array of diagnostic tests.
Jun. 2, 2015, 1:09 PM
- Thinly traded micro cap Cerulean Pharma (CERU -12.3%) moves south on 50% higher volume, albeit on turnover of only 430K shares, in response to the presentation of data (abstract #4543) at ASCO from a Phase 1b/2 trial assessing its lead product candidate, CRLX101, in combination with Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY -0.4%) Avastin (bevacizumab), for the treatment of patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).
- The study met its primary endpoint of at least half of the patients achieving progression-free survival (PFS) of four months or greater (n=12/22). Median PFS was 9.9 months. Overall response rate (ORR) was 23%. Average durability of response was 3.5 months from partial response to time off the study.
- The source of investors' lack of enthusiasm over the data may its comparison with Roche's AVOREN study that assessed bevacizumab in combination with interferon alfa (IFN) in mRCC. Median PFS was 10.2 months for Avastin + IFN compared to 5.4 months for placebo + AFN while ORR was 30% for Avastin + IFN versus 12% for placebo + IFN.
- CRLX101 is nanoparticle-drug conjugate (NDC) that delivers highly toxic camptothecin directly to cancer cells.
Jun. 2, 2015, 11:56 AM
- Puma Biotechnology (PBYI -13.3%) drops again on 3x normal volume as investors continue to head for exits in response to less-than-expected results from a Phase 3 study, called ExteNET, that assessed its lead product candidate, PB272 (neratinib) versus placebo after adjuvant treatment with Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY -0.6%) Herceptin (trastuzumab) in women with early stage HER2-positive breast cancer. The data were presented yesterday (abstract #508) at ASCO. Shares have slumped 26% since then.
- The ExteNET trial randomized 2,840 patients in 41 countries with HER2+ breast cancer who had undergone surgery and adjuvant (following) treatment with Herceptin. The two treatment arms were neratinib and placebo.
- The primary endpoint was invasive disease-free survival (DFS). Patients treated with neratinib showed a 33% lower risk of invasive disease recurrence or death compared to placebo (p=0.009), but there was only a modest separation in the two-year DFS rates: 93.9% for neratinib versus 91.6% for placebo.
- The secondary endpoint was disease-free survival including ductal carcinoma in situ (DFS-DCIS). Patients receiving neratinib showed a 37% reduction in risk of disease recurrence including DCIS or death versus placebo (p=0.002) but the difference in 2-year DFS-DCIS rates was, again, slight: 93.9% for neratinib versus 91.0% for placebo.
- Subgroups of patients whose tumors were assessed in a single reference location and those positive for hormone receptor (HR) showed higher reductions in risk of recurrence and greater differences in DFS compared to placebo.
Jun. 2, 2015, 7:31 AM
- Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) collaborate on a Phase 1b study to assess the former's talimogene laherparepvec (T-Vec) in combination with the latter's MPDL3280A (atezolizumab) in patients with triple-negative breast cancer and colorectal cancer with liver metastases. The partnership is another example of the rationale that combining immunotherapies with different mechanisms of action may be more effective in treating certain cancers.
- T-Vec is an investigational oncolytic immunotherapy that works in two ways. First, it is injected into tumors where it replicates inside tumor cells causing them to rupture and die in a process called lysis. The ruptured cells then release tumor-derived antigens, along with a white blood cell growth factor called GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor) that can stimulate a system-wide immune response.
- Atezolizumab is an investigational monoclonal antibody that binds to PD-L1 (programmed death-ligand 1), a protein found on the surface of cancer cells that enable them to avoid detection by the immune system.. Binding to the protein enables T cells to recognize and kill cancer cells.
Jun. 1, 2015, 8:56 AM
- Micro cap Vascular Biogenics (NASDAQ:VBLT) is up 11% premarket on robust volume in response to its announcement of positive interim results from a Phase 2 study assessing its lead product candidate, VB-111, in patients with recurrent glioblastoma (rGBM), one of the most aggressive primary brain tumors. The data showed a statistically significant benefit in overall survival (OS) in patients treated with VB-111 followed by VB-111 in combination with Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) Avastin (bevacizumab) upon disease progression compared to patients treated with VB-111 followed by bevacizumab alone (p=0.05). The full results were presented earlier this morning at a meeting for investors in conjunction with ASCO.
- 46 patients with rGBM were treated with VB-111. Upon disease progression, 23 were treated with VB-111 + bevacizumab and 22 received bevacizumab alone (one patient was stable on VB-111 alone after 18 months). Median OS in the combination arm was 16 months compared to eight months in the bevacizumab alone arm (p=0.05).
- VB-111 is an anti-angiogenic agent which is designed to restrict tumor growth by inhibiting the proliferation of new blood vessels that form to support rapidly growing cells.
- The company intends to initiate a Phase 3 trial later this year.
Jun. 1, 2015, 8:09 AM
- TheStreet's Adam Feuerstein reports from ASCO in Chicago. On the plus side, he says Oncothyreon (NASDAQ:ONTY), Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY), Merck (NYSE:MRK), ImmonoGen (NASDAQ:IMGN), Celldex Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CLDX) and CTIBiopharma (NASDAQ:CTIC) all presented impressive data.
- On the negative side, Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ:CLVS) and Puma Biotech (NYSE:PBYI) fell short of wowing the crowd while Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) was a bit of a mixed bag.
May 29, 2015, 5:24 PM
- Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE:BMY) stumbled 7% today on a 4.5x surge in volume in response to the presentation of an abstract (#109) at ASCO that underwhelmed many investors. The data were from Phase 3 study, called CheckMate-057, assessing the company's PD-1 inhibitor, Opdivo (nivolumab) compared to the standard-of-care chemotherapy agent docetaxel in treatment-experienced patients with advanced, non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, the most common form of lung cancer. A drug used after another (treatment experienced) is called a second line setting.
- The study met its primary endpoint of a statistically significant 27% reduction in the risk of cancer progression or death compared to docetaxel (p=0.0015). The trial also evaluated the efficacy of Opdivo compared to docetaxel by the level of PD-L1 expression, 1%, 5% and 10%. As expected, the median overall survival (OS) in the Opdivo group was significantly longer than the chemo cohort for all three levels where PD-L1 was highly expressed (greater than or equal to 1, 5, 10%).
- What raised eyebrows was the absence of a treatment benefit compared to docetaxel in the three groups with low PD-L1 expression (<1%, <5%, <10%). Median OS was barely higher in the Opdivo group with <1% expression and lower than docetaxel in the other two. This potentially opens the door for eventual competitors such as Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) and Merck (NYSE:MRK) whose offerings show strong efficacy in tumors that highly express PD-L1. Had Opdivo shown a significant OS advantage in low PD-L1 expression tumors, its dominance in the second line setting would have been virtually assured.
- CheckMate-057 was stopped early based on the successful achievement of its primary endpoint, per the recommendation of the independent Data Monitoring Committee.
- Previously: Phase 3 study stopped early after Bristol-Myers' Opdivo hits efficacy endpoint (April 17)
May 28, 2015, 7:19 AM
- Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) enters into an exclusive license agreement with Bern, Switzerland-based Galenica for the commercialization of Mircera (methoxy polyethylene glycol-epoetin beta) in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Mircera is a long-acting erythropoietin stimulating agent indicated for the treatment of anemia associated with chronic kidney disease in adult patients.
- Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will receive upfront and milestone payments, supply reimbursements and tiered royalties. Specific financial terms are not disclosed.
- Galenica has entered into a supply agreement with Fresenius Medical Care of North America under which Galenica will supply Mircera to its dialysis facilities.
- The FDA approved Mircera in November 2007 but the launch was delayed due to patent infringement issues with Amgen.
May 26, 2015, 1:14 PM
- Quintiles Transnational Holdings (Q +0.2%) upgraded to Buy from Neutral by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey.
- ReWalk Robotics (RWLK +1.6%) upgraded to Buy from Hold by Canaccord Genuity.
- Ilumina (ILMN) upgraded to Overweight from Equal-Weight by Morgan Stanley but price target lowered to $162 (21% downside risk) from $190. Current price: ~$205.
- Sarepta Therapeutics (SRPT +1.6%) upgraded to Buy from Hold with a $30 (12% upside) price target by Canaccord Genuity.
- Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY -1.4%) upgraded to Buy from Neutral with a CHF325 (18% upside) price target by UBS.
- Sarepta Therapeutics downgraded to Neutral from Buy by Bank of America; price target raised to $28 (5% upside) from $20.
- Bruker (BRKR -0.9%) downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $22 (13% upside) price target by Mizuho Securities.
- Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN -0.3%) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform by JMP Securities; $24 price target removed.
- Intercept Pharmaceuticals (ICPT) downgraded to Neutral from Buy with a $315 (21% upside) price target by Bank of America.
- Healthways (HWAY -1%) downgraded to Hold from Buy by Stifel Nicolaus; $25 price target removed.
- AmerisourceBergen (ABC -0.4%) downgraded to Market Perform from Outperform with a $121 (7% upside) price target by Cowen & Co.
May 26, 2015, 9:21 AM
- The FDA approves privately-held Boehringer Ingelheim's once-daily Stiolto Respimat (tiotropium bromide and olodaterol) Inhalation Spray for the maintenance treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and/or emphysema. It is not cleared for the treatment of asthma or acute deterioration of COPD.
- Tiotropium, a long-acting anticholinergic, is the active ingredient in Spiriva, the most prescribed COPD maintenance treatment worldwide. Olodaterol, a long-acting beta2-agonist that complements the efficacy of Spiriva, has a fast onset of action that improves airflow in five minutes after dosing.
- COPD-related tickers: (NASDAQ:TBPH) (NYSE:GSK) (NASDAQ:THRX) (NYSE:AZN) (NYSE:NVS) (NASDAQ:REGN) (NYSE:SNY) (NYSE:TEVA) (OTCQX:RHHBY) (NASDAQ:AQXP)
Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Roche is a leader in research-focused healthcare with combined strengths in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics. Roche is the world's largest biotech company, with truly differentiated medicines in oncology, immunology, infectious diseases, ophthalmology and... More
Industry: Drug Related Products
Other News & PR