Deals, Setbacks

Drumbeat of bad news continues at OncoMed as Celgene dumps option on one of its last pipeline efforts

Five years ago, OncoMed $OMED looked like one of the hottest oncology companies in the US, basking in the glow of a multibillion-dollar deal with the go-go team at Celgene. 

John Lewicki

Then its lead drugs foundered in a series of clinical disasters last year that presaged GlaxoSmithKline’s exit from their partnership. The company restructured in the spring of 2017, right after Bayer bowed out. CEO Paul Hastings hit the exit early this year. And this morning Celgene is cutting loose from one of their remaining options, passing on a license to OncoMed’s lead drug — a bispecific antibody dubbed navicixizumab (anti-DLL4/VEGF bispecific, OMP-305B83).

Company execs said Celgene’s decision to hand back worldwide rights was driven by “strategic product portfolio considerations.” There are two more drugs left in the pact: etigilimab and rosmantuzumab.

Back when OncoMed signed up with Celgene, its shares were trading at more than $29. This morning it will start trading at about 10% of that figure, with a much diminished market cap of $107 million.

The bispecific is in a Phase Ib study for patients with ovarian cancer, and OncoMed expects to offer some preliminary data at ESMO in October.

“While we are disappointed in Celgene’s decision, we thank them for the productive interactions in evaluating navicixizumab, and we respect their decision given their pipeline prioritization and focus,said CEO John Lewicki, who added that he’s reviewing his prospects with the drug.


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