Jazz rolls the dice on a billion-dollar gamble on a new drug for SCLC — shooting for a 2020 launch
Two days after filing their cancer drug lurbinectedin in the hunt for an FDA approval, Spain’s PharmaMar has snagged $200 million in cash as a down payment for a new pact with a US partner.
Jazz is handing off the cash and promising $800 million more in a billion-dollar bet that the drug can carve a straight path from positive Phase II data right into the lucrative market for small cell lung cancer — a tough field for drug hunters. Out of the $800 million, $250 million is reserved for regulatory approvals as they steer the drug to a potential 2020 launch.
At ASCO last summer PharmaMar laid out a positive 35.2% overall response rate from their Phase II trial testing the drug as a second-line therapy. All of those were partial responses. But when the researchers narrowed the field to what they determined were the most sensitive patients — following a chemo-free interval — the response rate surged to 45%.
The median PFS was 4.6 months for the sensitive group and the overall survival rate in the subpopulation was 11.9 months.
The drug triggers apoptosis by inhibiting RNA polymerase II and blocking trans-activated transcription.
Bruce Cozadd, CEO of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, says he’s ready to roll:
We are looking forward to commercializing lurbinectedin in the U.S., as SCLC is an area of significant unmet medical need given limited late-stage treatment options and we believe lurbinectedin may offer patients with relapsed SCLC a meaningful treatment option.