Genmab takes a hit after J&J sounds retreat on cancer combos, as patient deaths force researches to scrap trials

Roche’s reported success on lung cancer today came after another setback for their checkpoint Tecentriq.

Investigators at J&J were forced to scrap an early-stage combination of the PD-L1 drug with their Genmab-partnered Darazalex (daratumumab) for second-line lung cancer cases after it proved ineffective as well as possibly dangerous. And J&J went on to scrap an early-stage combination study using an in-house PD-1 with daratumumab for multiple myeloma.

Jan van de Winkel

According to researchers, they found that the Tecentriq combo arm in their lung cancer study demonstrated an imbalance of deaths that significantly outweighed the placebo arm. That triggered their decision to scrap the JNJ-63723283/daratumumab study and alert researchers and patients.

The news did some severe damage to Copenhagen-based Genmab’s stock (Nasdaq Copenhagen: GEN) on Monday, which has gained significantly through the successful development of daratumumab at J&J since they inked their partnership back in 2012.

J&J has largely been sidelined during the great I/O disease-rush of the past few years, but the pharma giant recently paid $350 million in cash to partner with China’s Legend Biotech to develop its BCMA-targeting CAR-T LCAR-B38M for multiple myeloma. 

“While we are disappointed that the studies will be discontinued, Genmab fully supports Janssen’s decision as patient safety is paramount in drug development. We look forward to gaining a better understanding of the data upon further analysis. We are pleased that the development program for daratumumab remains expansive and continues to benefit patients with Multiple Myeloma” said Genmab CEO Jan van de Winkel in a statement.

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VP Oncology Biology
Skyhawk Therapeutics Waltham, MA
Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT

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