Epizyme shares slump as cancer drug data update disappoints

Matthew Eckler, RBC

Analysts hate to be disappointed, and that’s just what Epizyme $EPZM accomplished this morning as it updated its camp followers with the latest data on tazemetostat for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

Initially, observers had been pleased by the 40% overall response rate that researchers had been tracking on DLBCL for its EZH2 inhibitor. Then this morning the company provided an update on their Phase II with more patients in the mix, and the ORR dropped to 29%.

That’s not a flop, but it’s not high enough to keep spirits up among the investor class. Shares of the company dropped more than 10% in early trading Wednesday.

RBC’s Matthew Eckler, for one, had predicted that the DLBCL data would be better than the latest reveal. In a recent note he wrote:

Assuming Wednesday’s presentation will be based on a late May datacut (2/28/17 datacut for March 15th abstract deadline), we don’t expect the number of mutant DLBCL pts will meaningfully change. With 2 additional mutant pts, ORR could range from 33% (4/12) to 50% (6/12).

Epizyme says that it expects the data will continue to evolve, so the game is far from over.

Franck Morschhauser, lead investigator of the Phase II study, noted:

“I am also encouraged by the level of activity in DLBCL patients with EZH2 mutations, especially in light of the bleak prognosis associated with advanced disease. Tazemetostat has demonstrated a uniquely tolerable safety profile, and I look forward to further exploring its full benefit in patients with relapsed or refractory FL and DLBCL as the data mature.”

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