Thursday, January 23, 2014

FDA Oncology Approvals: Why BMS So Ardently Wants Nivolumab To Beat MK-3475 -- By MORE Than Six Months

I've been meaning to post on this for two solid weeks now -- and just haven't found the free thoughtful ten minutes' worth of time. As long as I have a moment over my coffee -- here goes -- even if only half baked(!). (I also finally got around to making a graphic for what will be a series of Condor's predictions/prognostications posts, in various pharmaceutical and bioscience arenas.)

I still think BMS will be on market first (i.e., clear FDA), with nivolumab (my recent backgrounder here) -- the promising Anti-PD-1 cancer candidate -- here in the US. I am just no longer convinced that it will have a six month or more lead, over Merck's MK-3475.

And, since oncologists take a bit to ramp up, a new drug needs more than a six month lead, alone in a given new market, to firmly establish itself as the leader, among the prescribers. Of course, even a later arriving candidate will trump all, if it shows orders of magnitude more efficiacy. But at the moment, BMS and Merck look to be pretty close to parity on clinical trial efficacy and safety.

So -- having the US to oneself for six months or more would be decisive for BMS. (Of course, the same can be said of Merck -- and MK-3475, should it, less probably, garner a six month lead.) We shall see, but MK-3475 is at FDA on a rolling submission now, so they may break from the gate -- at essentially the same moment. And by that, I mean within six months of one another. That will make for a very interesting "off-label" horse race, in other cancers, if both are only initially-approved for melanoma. Now do go read Medicynic, from last summer -- to understand that this is no cure -- from either company.
. . . .This is not a cure but there is clear progress evident with this new drug. Whether this will be sustained remissions with a significant survival benefit, as appears likely, remains to be fully proven.

Medicynical Note: The cost of this new agent will be interesting to track. An unaffordable drug has the same impact as the sound generated by a tree falling in the woods. . . .

More background here -- but I think he is (mostly) wrong on the price notion -- in a good portion of the fully-insured US patient base, at least, as to cancer -- price becomes secondary to significant survival benefits even for the now constrained payers. So -- it should be a fascinating roll-out period, mid-2014. For both companies. How highly will the battling duo be priced, once launched -- at either company? As ever, we shall see.


Anonymous said...

Carnac (ahem, Condor) the Magnificent lives!

I like the overall idea of divine predictions!

Condor said...


Only because the above prognostication is channeled through a deity -- from India's sacred texts -- I gather. . . per the graphic.


Only slightly more seriously, the whole meme seems to be garnering more MSM attention, this afternoon. . . Did YOU do that?! Do tell!

In any event, thanks for stopping by, Anon., and do stop back in, occasionally!