Covid-19 afflicts Eli Lilly’s share price and a KRAS drug gets tossed, but Jardiance win salves the wound as an antibody effort advances to PhII
Shares of Eli Lilly $LLY tumbled close to 2% on Thursday in a toxic reaction to its mixed revenue performance in the face of the pandemic during Q2. But investors found solace in a promising Phase III readout for Jardiance, as their blockbuster continues to blaze a trail to much bigger markets.
Their SGLT2 inhibitor beat out a placebo in reducing the risk for the composite of cardiovascular death or hospitalization due to heart failure, when added to standard of care. The drug hit the primary endpoint, added Lilly, noting that the full data readout will come at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress at the end of August.
Swept out in the Q2 cleanup, though, was Lilly’s early stage KRAS G12C drug LY3499446. After Amgen spurred hope for a big KRAS play, with a variety of players looking to make progress on a target that has long been considered undruggable, added data have dimmed hopes for broad applicability. And now Lilly, which has been steadily reworking its oncology pipeline and brand under Loxo chief Josh Bilenker, wants out. The key issue was safety.
Lilly’s statement to Endpoints News:
While we were initially excited to explore the potential of LY3499446, we saw unexpected toxicity and decided not to invest additional time and resources in a program that may not be as clinically and competitively relevant as we hoped. We are taking a very disciplined approach to building our pipeline and are singularly focused on discovering and developing medicines that we believe will be truly differentiated and matter to patients.
The news on Jardiance, one of their fastest growing franchises at Lilly, will be sweeter for investors.
Vamil Divan at Mizuho noted:
(I)t is clear to us that today’s news, combined with positive news we have seen recently from SGLT-2 inhibitors in patients with kidney disease, is going to open up large new markets for the SGLT-2 class, with Jardiance the clear market leader.
Other drugs in the class, including Farxiga from AstraZeneca, have been making their own advances on the cardio side of the medical equation.
“The results of the EMPEROR-Reduced trial indicate that SGLT2 inhibitors have the potential to become a new standard of care for this disease, which will be a meaningful addition to currently established treatments,” noted Milton Packer, chair of the executive committee for the development program.
Analysts have also been closely following Lilly’s antibody development program for CoV555, partnered with AbCellera. In their Q2 statement, the company said they had completed dosing in the first study and launched a Phase II trial, with data expected in the fourth quarter.