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AbbVie, J&J concede a failure for blockbuster Imbruvica in their PhIII shot at pancreatic cancer

Pancreatic cancer has beaten another Phase III effort aimed at improving the prospects of patients fighting the disease.

Just ahead of the 3-day weekend, AbbVie $ABBV and their partners at J&J $JNJ announced that the late-stage study of Imbruvica combined with a pair of chemo drugs could do no better than the chemo approach alone in improving either progression-free or overall survival for pancreatic cancer.

We don’t have the data yet, but investigators will reveal the specifics at an upcoming scientific conference.

Danelle James

Imbruvica first jumped on the market close to 6 years ago and has since racked up a total of 9 approvals, earning blockbuster status. The BTK inhibitor has proven successful in a string of B cell blood cancers as well as chronic graft-versus-host-disease.

Pancreatic cancer has proven to be one of the toughest targets in oncology, but 5-year survival rates have inched up over the past 5 years to about 8%. 

Danelle James, the head of clinical science at AbbVie subsidiary Pharmacyclics, said the setback wouldn’t affect an ambitious range of clinical trials aimed at further expansion of the market for their drug. A quick check on clinicaltrials.gov revealed dozens of trials either underway or scheduled to start.


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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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