- Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company Roche Holding Limited (RHHBY) has had a topsy-turvy year so far.
- During the first half of 2014, Roche’s net incomes fell almost 7% as compared to the first six months of 2014.
- Over the course of the year, Roche has expanded its portfolio and has branched out towards newer markets in order to seek further avenues for growth.
- Roche faced failures in the clinical trial stages for not one but two of its drugs. The company was seeking treatments for Alzheimer’s as well as breast cancer.
- It will be in the investors’ best interests to currently steer clear from buying into Roche’s stock as future revenue generation and earnings growth is not visible at the moment.
- The Phase III MARIANNE study of Kadcyla delivered a major disappointment as this would-be successor to Herceptin failed to show superior efficacy alone or in combination with Perjeta.
- Roche also announced the end of another Alzheimer's program, casting further doubt on the company's ability to develop new drugs outside of its oncology franchise.
- Loss of Kadcyla upside suggests Roche is fairly valued today; a decent hold for investors looking for long-term exposure to oncology, but perhaps not as compelling for new investments.
Roche's Avastin Should Get The Nod From The FDA On November 19
- Avastin in combination with chemotherapy is approved in Europe for treating platinum-sensitive, platinum-resistant, as well as newly-diagnosed ovarian cancer, but is only used off-label in the U.S.
- FDA approval will be based on the AURELIA trial, where Avastin showed a significant improvement in the primary endpoint, progression-free survival (PFS), but no marked difference in overall survival.
- Avastin showed lower incidence of serious adverse effects than in previous trials; similarly, patients were significantly more satisfied, according to quality-of-life surveys, which supports the PFS benefits.
- Barring some serious safety information that hasn't become public, Avastin should be granted approval based on comments and recommendations formulated by the FDA workshop panel on cancer endpoints.
- If approved, Avastin can capture much of a $2 billion market of patients who relapse after first-line chemotherapy in ovarian cancer.
Roche's Cancer Drug Sales Continue To Grow, May Face Competition In The Medium TermLucrative Advice • Oct. 29, 2014
- Roche showed impressive performance as sales grew on the back of their growth in cancer drug sales. Revenue was spread across pharmaceuticals division as well as its diagnostics division.
- Growth in Roche’s pharmaceutical division was broad based as it wasn’t only the breast cancer treatment drugs that performed well.
- There are expectations of future competition in the market but Roche has strategized smartly in order to deal with the market saturation.
- Roche is aiming to grow its portfolio beyond oncology to immunology and ophthalmology.
- Investment in Roche is definitely rewarding and safe, and any future drop in prices should be considered an ideal entry point.
- Roche has seen Art Levinson, former CEO of Genentech, leave the board as his company Calico signs a major partnership with AbbVie.
- Roche has been making some odd M&A decisions of late (including a seeming lack of conviction about abandoning or doubling down in sequencing) and has seen top-notch talent go elsewhere.
- In a generally expensive sector, Roche screens as a decent investment option but the company needs to add more pharma experience to its board and strengthen its non-oncology business.
With An Iffy Non-Oncology Pipeline, Roche Pays Up For InterMune
- Roche comes out on top in what was rumored to be a multi-party bidding process for InterMune, agreeing to pay over $8 billion for the developer of Esbriet (for IPF).
- Even with incremental free cash flow margins above 50%, Roche has to generate more than $2 billion/year in U.S. sales to justify the price paid for InterMune.
- Roche's past failures in developing drugs outside of oncology likely pushed management toward this deal, but the shares still look modestly undervalued on mid-single digit growth expectations.
- The company is hopeful that by leveraging Genia's technology, it will be able to bring the cost of DNA sequencing down and at the same time improve its speed and sensitivity.
- If DNA sequencing helps Roche in developing 1-2 targeted drugs for cancer and other serious illnesses, the incremental sales could be significant.
- The broader attempt appears to be toward strengthening the diagnostics business and gain share as Johnson & Johnson falters in this market.
Roche Hikes Dividend By 6%, Remains A Safe Yield Play
Roche: Impact Of Rituxan Patent Expiration In EuropePharma Reports • Oct. 21, 2013
Will Lost Patents Force Roche Into Acquisition Mode?
Roche Holdings: New Drugs Drive Oncology Unit's GrowthTrefis • Mar. 15, 2013
Dec. 19, 2014, 7:09 AM
- Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) terminates the development of its anti-amyloid candidate, gantenerumab, for the treatment of prodromal (pre-dementia) Alzheimer's disease after a pre-planned futility analysis and recommendation by the independent Data Monitoring Committee. Clearly, the DMC's analysis showed that the Phase 3 trial would be unlikely to achieve its primary efficacy endpoint.
- The company will share the data with the medical community after a full review and analysis.
Dec. 16, 2014, 9:49 AM
- Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY -0.3%) launches the cobas Liat System for molecular diagnostics testing in the on-demand environments of physician offices, pharmacies and hospital laboratories. The fully automated system utilizes the company's polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology and can generate results in 20 minutes or less. Its two initial tests are for Influenza A/B and Strep A.
Dec. 16, 2014, 8:19 AM| Comment!
Dec. 15, 2014, 7:14 AM
- Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) Genentech submits a New Drug Application (NDA) to the FDA for cobimetinib in combination with Zelboraf (vemurafenib) for the treatment of patients with BRAF V600 mutation-positive advance melanoma.
- Cobimetinib selectively blocks the activity of MEK, one of a series of proteins that make up a signaling pathway that helps regulate cell division and survival. Vemurafenib binds to mutant BRAF, another protein in the pathway, to interrupt abnormal signaling that can cause tumors to grow.
- Genentech is developing cobimetinib in collaboration with Exelixis (NASDAQ:EXEL).
Dec. 10, 2014, 8:06 AM
- The Phase 3 study of Acorda Therapeutics' (NASDAQ:ACOR) CVT-301 for the treatment of OFF episodes in patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) is underway with the enrollment of the first patient. An OFF episode is a period of time during which PD symptoms such as tremor, muscle stiffness and slow movement reemerge despite taking PD medications.
- CVT-301 is a self-administered inhaled therapy that delivers a precise dose of levodopa through the lungs to return PD patients to an ON state.
- The multi-center, double-blind, randomized Phase 3 trial will enroll ~345 subjects across three treatment arms: 50 mg, 35 mg or placebo. The primary endpoint is improvement on the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS) Part III.
- Acorda obtained the rights to CVT-301 via its acquisition of Civitas Therapeutics.
- Previously: Acorda to buy biopharma firm (Sept. 24, 2014)
- PD-OFF-related tickers: (OTCQX:CYNAF) (NASDAQ:NDRM) (NASDAQ:IPXL) (OTCQB:TTNP) (OTCQB:SGTH) (NYSE:TEVA) (NASDAQ:ADMS) (NASDAQ:PRTA) (OTCQX:RHHBY)
Dec. 8, 2014, 12:37 PM
- Biotech investors are giving Seattle Genetics (SGEN -8.4%) the cold shoulder today on increased volume. It appears that all the love is being directed to the potential of competitors' PD-1 inhibitors in fighting cancer despite the company's presentations at the American Society of Hematology meeting of positive results for Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), an antibody-drug conjugate directed to CD30 in Hodgkin lymphoma (HL).
- Long-term data from a Phase 1 trial of Adcetris combined with AVD (adriamycin, vinblastine, dacarbazine) demonstrated a 100% overall survival rate at year three and 92% failure-free survival rate at year 3 in frontline HL.
- Adcetris in combination with bendamustine as a second-line therapy demonstrated an objective response rate of 96% and a complete remission rate of 83% in patients with relapsed or refractory HL.
- In a Phase 2 trial in previously untreated HL patients aged 60 and older, Adcetris showed a 93% objective response rate.
- The company is collaborating with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. (OTCPK:TKPHF) (OTCPK:TKPYY) on the development of the product.
- Previously: Positive results in Adcetris Phase 3 label expansion trial (Sept. 29, 2014)
- PD-1 inhibitor-related tickers: (BMY +0.2%)(FPRX +4.8%)(MRK -0.2%)(CELG +4.2%)(OTCQX:RHHBY -0.5%)(AZN -0.6%)
Dec. 2, 2014, 7:10 AM
- Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY) acquires privately-held San Jose, CA-based Ariosa Diagnostics for an undisclosed sum. Ariosa provides molecular diagnostic testing services, principally non-invasive prenatal testing using cell-free DNA technology.
- The company's Harmony Prenatal Test measures fetal cell-free DNA from a sample of the mother's blood. It is designed to assess the risk of Down syndrome.
Nov. 28, 2014, 9:23 AM
- The European Commission approves Boehringer Ingelheim's Vargatef (nintedanib), in combination with docetaxel, for the treatment of adult patients with locally advanced, metastatic or locally recurrent non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) of adenocarcinoma tumor histology, after first-line chemotherapy. Adenocarcinoma is the most common form of lung cancer.
- Nintedanib is an oral angiokinase inhibitor which simultaneously inhibits endothelial growth factor receptors (VEGFR), platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFR) and fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFR) signalling pathways. It is currently being investigated in various other cancers.
- Earlier this month, Europe's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) adopted a positive opinion supporting approval of nintedanib, branded as Ofev, for the treatment of ideopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The FDA approved it for IPF in October.
- Previously: Europe Ad Comm supports approval for BI pulmonary fibrosis drug
- Previously: BI begins enrollment in Phase 3 CRC trial
- ETFs: IBB, BIB, IRY, BIS, IXJ, DRGS
- Lung cancer-related tickers: (NYSE:BMY) (NYSE:MRK) (NASDAQ:CLVS) (NASDAQ:FPRX) (NASDAQ:BIND) (NYSE:GSK) (NASDAQ:ARIA) (NASDAQ:ECYT) (NYSE:AZN) (OTC:MKGAF) (OTCPK:MKGAY) (NASDAQ:ONTY) (NYSE:PFE) (NASDAQ:HTBX) (OTCQX:RHHBY) (NASDAQ:INCY)
Nov. 25, 2014, 8:18 AM
- Pharmacy benefits manager Express Scripts (NASDAQ:ESRX) is at the forefront of an increasing wave of resistance to the high prices of new drugs from pharma and biotech firms, some which cost as much as $50K per month. Pharmaceutical spending in the U.S. is $270B and may breach $500B in five years. ESRX's method of controlling costs is to refuse to pay for them. For 2015, for example, it is excluding 66 branded drugs from its main formulary, an increase of 18 from 2014's 48. On the list is Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) rheumatoid arthritis drug Simponi (golimumab) which costs $3K per month.
- Other prescription benefits managers are employing similar tactics. CVS Health (NYSE:CVS) will exclude 95 drugs from its 2015 formulary including Pfizer's (NYSE:PFE) multiple sclerosis med Rebif (interferon beta-1a) which costs $5K for a four-week supply.
- Governments are pushing back as well. Among 42 state Medicaid programs, 27 pay for Gilead Sciences' HCV med Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) only for patients with severe liver damage while others impose coverage limitations for patients with recent substance-abuse problems. In the U.S., the full regimen cost is $84K. Recently, Britain's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) balked at recommending reimbursement for Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) blood cancer drug Gazyvaro (obinutuzumab).
- Ninety percent of commercial health plans require pre-approval of specialty drugs, up from 82% in 2011.
- Previously: Roche's Gazyvaro not NICE in the UK
- Previously: Global drug tab will breach trillion dollar mark this year
- ETFs: IBB, BIB, IRY, BIS, IXJ, DRGS
- Related tickers: (NYSE:NVS) (NYSE:AZN) (NASDAQ:AMGN) (NASDAQ:BIIB) (NASDAQ:CELG) (NYSE:LLY) (NYSE:SNY) (NYSE:ABT) (NYSE:ABBV) (NYSE:BMY) (NYSE:MRK) (NYSE:GSK)
Nov. 24, 2014, 8:40 AM
- Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TTPH) is reportedly considering selling itself after being approached by interested suitors. Sources say the acquirer could be Acetelion (OTCPK:ALIOF) (OTC:ALIOY) or Roche (OTCQX:RHHBY).
- The attraction is Tetraphase's antibiotic eravacycline, currently in Phase 3 development. Both oral and IV formulations of the drug have demonstrated higher dose response rates than Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE:JNJ) Levaquin (levofloxacin) for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections. In the Ignite-2 study, patients receiving 200 mg eravacycline IV-to-oral doses achieved a response rate of 70.8% while patients receiving 250 mg IV-to-oral doses achieved 64.3%, both significantly ahead of Levaquin's 52.2% response rate.
- A trial comparing eravacycline to Merck's (NYSE:MRK) Invanz (ertapenem) for the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections is underway.
- TTPH is up 18% premarket on light volume.
- Previously: Tetraphase completes eravacycline Phase 3 enrollment
Nov. 24, 2014, 8:02 AM
- The European Commission approves AstraZeneca's (NYSE:AZN) Duaklir Genuair (aclidium bromide/formoterol fumarate 340/12 mcg) for the maintenance bronchodilator treatment in adults with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- The product is a fixed dose combination of two approved long-acting bronchodilators with different mechanisms of action. Aclidium bromide is an anticholinergic or long-acting muscarinic antagonist that produces bronchodilation by inhibiting the muscarinic M3 receptor in the airway smooth muscle. Formoterol fumarate is a long-acting beta-agonist that stimulates the B2-receptors in the bronchial smooth muscle resulting in bronchodilation. Both are currently approved as stand-alone therapies for the maintenance treatment of COPD in the U.S. and Europe.
- Genuair is a multi-dose pre-loaded dry powder inhaler that utilizes optical and acoustic signals to inform the patient that the correct dose has been delivered.
- COPD-related tickers: (NYSE:GSK) (NYSE:NVS) (NASDAQ:THRX) (NASDAQ:REGN) (NYSE:SNY) (NYSE:TEVA) (OTCQX:RHHBY)
Nov. 23, 2014, 3:21 PM
- Group says Genentech's (OTCQX:RHHBY) change to distribution of oncology drugs will negatively impact U.S. hospitals, clinics, and their patients.
- Says that while the distribution shift may improve Genentech's model, "it does so at the expend of the efficiencies, quality and safety within U.S. hospitals and clinics."
- Asks that Genentech "reverse this ill-advised decision."
- Source: Gautam Kollu
Nov. 20, 2014, 7:41 AM
- According to IMS Health (NYSE:IMS) global drug spending will top $1T this year led by Gilead's (NASDAQ:GILD) Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) for hep C and new cancer drugs. The projected spend of $1.06T represents a 7% increase from last year.
- By 2018, drug spending is projected to rise to $1.3T. Hepatitis C and cancer meds will add ~$100B each, while diabetes care will contribute $78B. Leading the charge in cancer will be Roche's (OTCQX:RHHBY) Perjeta (pertuzumab) and Kadcyla (ado-trastuzumab emtansine), Pharmacyclics' (NASDAQ:PCYC) Imbruvica (ibrutinib) and Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) Kyprolis (carfilzomib).
- The ever-increasing tab for meds will be controversial because payers' budgets are being stressed while drug developers defend their prices citing high development costs.
- There is already some push back in cancer. Britain's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which sets guidelines for the National Health Service on costs, procedures and technologies, is balking at approving Roche's Gazyvaro (obinutuzumab) and Kadcyla citing their high cost relative to additional benefits over existing therapies.
- Previously: Roche's Gazyvaro not NICE in the UK
- ETFs: IBB, BIB, IRY, BIS, IXJ, DRGS
Nov. 17, 2014, 9:07 AM| Comment!
Nov. 17, 2014, 8:57 AM
- Celldex Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CLDX) is up 20% premarket on robust volume in response to its announcement of interim data from is Phase 2 clinical trial assessing the safety and efficacy of rindopepimut in patients with EGFRvIII-positive glioblastoma (GBM). The results demonstrate signs of clinical activity including groups both naive and refractory to Avastin (bevacizumab) (OTCQX:RHHBY).
- Rindopepimut (Rintega) is an investigational immunotherapy that targets the tumor-specific oncogene EGFRvIII. Patients in this category have a worse prognosis that the overall glioblastoma population and poor long term survival prospects.
- In the bevacizumab-naive group, the primary endpoint is progression-free survival at six months (PFS-6). The value for the rindopepimut arm is 27% compared to 11% in the control arm (p=0.048). Statistically significant overall survival (OS) benefit: rindopepimut median: 12.0 months versus control median of 8.8 months (p=0.0208). Hazard ratio: 0.47.
- In the bevacizumab-refractory group, rare but prominent anti-tumor activity did not meet the hurdle for expanded accrual. Noteworthy OS compared to historical values. Rindopepimut plus bevacizumab was well-tolerated, no serious adverse events attributed to rindopepimut. Early anti-EGFRvIII immune response correlates with survival benefit.
Nov. 14, 2014, 2:00 PM
- The FDA approves a label expansion for Genentech's (OTCQX:RHHBY) Avastin (bevacizumab). The new indication is, in combination with chemotherapy, for the treatment of women with platinum-resistant, recurrent epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer who have received no more than two prior chemotherapy regimens.
- Avastin is also approved in the U.S. as part of a combination therapy for colon, lung, kidney and cervical cancer.
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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
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