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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: Twitter: Dereklowe

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March 26, 2007

Vectibix Lurches A Bit

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Posted by Derek

Amgen served up a nasty surprise on Friday with the results of a trial they're running on their Vectibix (panitumumab) cancer therapy. It's an EGFR inhibitor (same space as Imclone's Erbitux) and this trial was the first to test a "dual biologics" approach to colon cancer. One group got the standard of care (oxaliplatin and irinotecan chemotherapy, plus Genentech's Avastin VEGF inhibitor), and other other got that plus Vectibix.

Unfortunately, in one of those unexpected results that cancer trials are always delivering, the two-protein-therapeutics group actually showed slightly worse survival data than did the standard-of-care group, and that takes care of that. By itself, this result isn't enough to call Vectibix a failure by any means. But its expected rise to overshadow Erbitux has clearly been delayed.

Imclone's stock price reflects this. Does it ever - my modest short position in their stock is now underwater good and proper. Their stock's up 45% so far this year, with a lot of that in just the last two weeks. But these are early days (he said to himself abstractedly, looking out the window with his brokerage statement in his lap). Both drugs are in similar Phase III trials against colorectal cancer (as that first link, to Bioworld Today, details) and eventually we're going to have about as good a head-to-head comparison as you can expect in this area. Whether that'll be enough to decide anything, well. . .

Comments (7) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Business and Markets | Cancer | Clinical Trials


1. Al on March 27, 2007 3:35 AM writes...

Were they going for the most expensive combination therapy in history as well?

Stop loss Derek, stop loss.

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2. Chrispy on March 27, 2007 2:27 PM writes...

Wow, if Amgen drops any lower then it is only a matter of time before they become Pfamgen...

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3. David Young on March 27, 2007 3:48 PM writes...

Derek, did you say "dual biologics?" You meant, "dueling biologics."

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4. Hap on March 28, 2007 12:27 PM writes...

Sorry about the short - seeing Imclone circle the drain would be nice in an evil sort of way, and I'm sorry to see that it won't yet be fulfilled as well.

The first poster seems to have a point - the combination therapy would seem to be too expensive for all but a very few to pay for on their own, and expensive enough to make insurance companies wince or stop up their ears at its suggestion. It seems like Vectabix(sic?) + standard would have had to have beaten the stuffing out of the standard of care in order for insurance companies to cover it, and that's probably asking a lot.

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5. Rob on March 28, 2007 7:27 PM writes...

Have you guys actually seen the clinic trial data on Erbitux? It's not exactly a home run (even Mendelson agrees). Full disclosure, i work in a EGFR lab, and i used to work in Mendelson's old department at MDACC. Anyway my understanding is that it's a very very limited application drug.

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6. David on March 28, 2007 10:25 PM writes...

Erbitux may not be a home run for colon cancer, not by a long shot. But it may end up proving its worth as a adjuvant to radiotherapy and possibly also with chemotherapy/radiotherapy in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck.

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7. Paul on April 4, 2007 11:07 AM writes...

The combination in the trial was not meant for actual use but merely for effect, or to be more blunt, marketing. It was Amgen's short cut to "proving" that Vectibix was equal or better than Erbitux. As it turns out, it might be the first step to the eventual demise of Vectibix which will now be relegated to deep third line territory.

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