The European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) conference wrapped up this week with many exciting announcements and developments. New studies from Lilly, AstraZeneca, Merck and others showed promise treating lung cancer, thyroid cancer, prostate cancer and more. Hospitals and medical groups are pushing back at the Trump administration’s focus on publishing payer-negotiated pricing. Read on for more top news from the Innovation Partners BioBlog.

NCCN Academy for Excellence & Leadership in Oncology

School of Pharmaceutical & Biotech Business
10.29.19 Scottsdale, AZ

This program will give pharmaceutical and biotechnology professionals the rare opportunity to view the oncology space, its future and its current operational issues from the provider, advocacy, and payer perspectives.
NCCN Academy Oct 29 Phoenix AZ

NCCN Academy for Excellence & Leadership in Oncology – School of Pharmaceutical & Biotech Business will take place on Tuesday, October 29 at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Innovation Partners Weekly BioBlog Oct 6, 2019 edition

ESMO: Lilly’s RET drug shrinks more than half of rare thyroid cancers

Eli Lilly’s acquisition of Loxo Oncology is paying off in unexpected ways. The company’s RET inhibitor, originally developed by Loxo, has already demonstrated encouraging results in the treatment of lung cancer. Now, the drug shrank thyroid tumors in half of the patients who had already tried at least two kinase inhibitors. The phase 1/2 data, presented Sunday at the annual meeting of the European Society for Medical Oncology, show that the drug shrank tumors in 56% of 55 patients with RET-mutant medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), who had been treated with Sanofi Genzyme’s Caprelsa (vandetanib) and/or Exelixis’ Cabometyx (cabozantinib). The study followed patients for an average of 11 months, at which point one-third of the participants saw their disease worsen.

ESMO: AZ, Merck’s Lynparza brings precision medicine to prostate cancer with ‘game-changer’ results

AstraZeneca and Merck presented another case to use Lynparza to combat prostate cancer. The two companies presented study data to the European Society for Medical Oncology demonstrating that among previously treated metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with one of three genetic mutations, Lynparza could cut the risk of disease progression or death by 66%. Men with BRCA1, BRCA2 or ATM mutated cancers went a median 7.4 months without their cancer worsening, versus just 3.6 months for those treated with next-gen therapies such as Johnson & Johnson’s Zytiga or Pfizer and Astellas’ Xtandi. And among men with any of those mutations or one of 12 other mutations in their homologous recombination repair (HRR) genes, Lynparza cut the risk of disease progression or death by 51%.

Hospitals and insurers question legality, need for CMS price transparency rule

Hospitals and insurers are making a last effort to convince the Trump administration to halt a rule that would require them to post payer-negotiated prices online. Facilities claim such a requirement will not drive down prices and will instead put a heavy burden on facilities. The proposal, included in the 2020 hospital payment rule, would require hospitals starting on Jan. 1, 2020, to post payer-negotiated rates for certain shoppable hospital services. The rates must be available online in a way that can be searched.

Hospitals demand CMS drop 340B, site-neutral cuts in OPPS due to court rulings

Hospital groups claim that the latest cuts in the hospital payment rule are unlawful. Group targeted cuts to the 340B drug discount program and the continued phase-in of site-neutrality cuts in comments to the hospital outpatient payment system (OPPS) rule. A federal judge recently ruled that CMS exceeded its authority when it instituted payment cuts to physician offices within hospitals to better align them with physician offices outside of a hospital.

ESMO: Pfizer eyes commercial scale-up as Array colorectal cancer combo hits its marks

Pfizer presented data at the European Society for Medical Oncology annual meeting showing that its colorectal cancer drugs, Braftovi and Mektovi, when combined with anti-EGFR drug Erbitux, could extend previously treated patients’ lives for a median nine months, compared with just 5.4 months for standard-of-care therapy. In other words, it decreased the risk of death by 48%. The prognosis for this patient pool is typically poor.

ESMO: Roche’s Tecentriq-chemo combo barely tops chemo in bladder cancer

Roche presented data on its Tecentriq-chemo combo to combat bladder cancer, but acknowledge the difficulty of treating this particular form of cancer. The IMvigor 130 trial cut the risk of disease progression or death by 18% in previously untreated patients with metastatic disease, regardless of PD-L1 biomarker status. This is the first time a checkpoint inhibitor combo has managed to fend off bladder cancer in phase 3.

ESMO 2019 may be over, but the market battles it set up are just getting started

A roundup of the presentations at ESMO 2019 showed exciting advancements in the world of oncology. Presenters included data from Merck’s Keynote-522 study. It was the first to examine immuno-oncology in the neoadjuvant setting for triple-negative breast cancer patients. AstraZeneca and Merck’s Lynparza became the first in its class of PARP inhibitors to bring a precision medicine approach to metastatic, castration-resistant prostate cancer. In the Profound trial, it showed it could benefit patients with homologous recombination repair mutations with a performance execs deemed practice-changing. This and more in the ESMO conference summary.

And Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo-Yervoy combo has a first, too, with the company becoming the only drugmaker thus far to post five-year phase 3 follow-up data for a checkpoint inhibitor combo in melanoma.