This week’s Innovation Partners BioBlog focuses on the top stories from the oncology sector. GSK announced trial results in its promising ovarian cancer drug, while AbbieVie scooped up Mavpharma to enhance its early stage oncology pipeline. The Trump Administration shot down the drug rebate rule, and much more in this week’s BioBlog.

Innovation Partners BioBlog July 21, 2019

GSK’s Zejula racks up first-line maintenance win in ovarian cancer, even in non-BRCA patients

GlaxoSmithKline announced that in a 3 Prima trial, Zejula topped a placebo at fending off cancer’s advance in patients who responded to one round of platinum-based chemo, regardless of their BRCA status. GSK pinned its hopes on Zejula as a competitor to Merck’s Lynparza which was approved in December. The approval allowed Lynparza to gain the lead in sales, and GSK hopes Zejula will snag more market share once it is fully launched.

AbbVie Enhances Early Stage Oncology Pipeline with Acquisition of Mavupharma

AbbVie announced it has acquired Seattle-based Mavupharma, a privately held biopharmaceutical company focused on novel approaches to target the STING (STimulator of INterferon Genes) pathway for the treatment of cancer. Mavupharma’s lead clinical candidate is MAVU-104, a first-in-class, orally active, small molecule inhibitor of ENPP1, an enzyme involved in the regulation of the STING pathway. Inhibiting ENPP1 activity with MAVU-104 allows for highly controlled enhancement of STING signaling in tumors without the need for injections. The acquisition continues AbbVie’s quest to build a leadership position in the oncology market.

Trump administration tosses drug rebate rule

The Trump administration has killed its plan to eliminate safe harbors for drug rebates. White House spokesman confirmed to FierceHealthcare on Thursday that the controversial rebate rule is dead. The Administration continues to encourage bipartisan discussion to end high drug costs. Industry leaders warned that canceling the drug rebate rule might lead to higher drug prices, but their argument was ineffective at persuading the administration to change its mind.


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Wednesday that it is proposing to launch a radiation oncology model that would make prospective payments to cover radiotherapy services, in 90-day episodes, for patients diagnosed with 17 types of cancer. The model would link payment to quality metrics and would require participation in randomly selected geographic areas. It would also qualify as an Advanced Alternative Payment Model (APM) and Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) APM under the Quality Payment Program (QPP).

Adding Immunotherapy After Initial Treatment Can Benefit Metastatic Lung Cancer Patients

JAMA Oncology published results from the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania this week of positive results from immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab. Treating metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with pembrolizumab after they’ve completed locally ablative therapy – meaning all known sites of their cancer were either treated with surgery, radiation, or other definitive treatments – almost tripled the median progression-free survival (PFS) compared to the historical average. The study found that the average PFS of study participants was 19.1 months, compared to 6.6 months.

Insurance lobby chief confronts storm over Medicare for All

Democratic hopefuls pitched “Medicare for All” at recent debates, but can it work? Matt Eyles, head of the health insurance lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), believes it’s a catchy slogan that would be difficult, if not impossible, to implement in reality. Although Eyles is biased – he is, after all, a lobbyist for the health insurance industry – he sets forth many compelling reasons why repealing the ACA and adding dramatically expanding Medicare coverage. For example, insurance experts believe it might increase waiting times and give the government more power in healthcare decisions regarding denying or approving treatment options. No matter what political party, all agree that the current healthcare coverage situation cannot continue.