Puma shares ripped af­ter grow­ing grade 3 di­ar­rhea threat is high­light­ed in an ab­stract

Simos Sime­oni­dis, RBC Cap­i­tal

The skep­tics ripped in­to Puma Biotech­nol­o­gy $PBYI to­day, tear­ing a 20% chunk out of its share price by ear­ly af­ter­noon on Mon­day af­ter get­ting a glimpse of its lead can­cer drug’s con­tin­u­ing prob­lems spurring se­vere cas­es of di­ar­rhea in pa­tients.

The re­ac­tion quick­ly set in af­ter Puma post­ed an ab­stract for an up­com­ing can­cer sym­po­sium which spelled out the in­creas­ing rates in ner­a­tinib tri­als. RBC’s Simos Sime­oni­dis sat down to com­pare the num­bers, and reached a few un­set­tling con­clu­sions. Here’s a note he post­ed Mon­day af­ter­noon:

In an ab­stract re­leased this morn­ing, Puma dis­closed da­ta from the Phase II CON­TROL tri­al in the ex­tend­ed ad­ju­vant set­ting show­ing that treat­ment with lop­eramide helps low­er the ~40% Grade 3 (G3) di­ar­rhea seen in the Ex­teNET Phase III tri­al. How­ev­er, the num­bers re­leased to­day show that the G3 rates went up com­pared to what was dis­closed last year… Specif­i­cal­ly, in pa­tients in the orig­i­nal lop­eramide pro­to­col, the rate of G3 di­ar­rhea in­creased to 21.4% from 18.5%. Fur­ther­more, in the amend­ed pro­to­col arm, the amount of G3 di­ar­rhea more than dou­bled from 13% to 28.6%. Over­all, the blend­ed rate be­tween these two arms was 27.1% vs. 16% last year.

The com­pa­ny had re­cent­ly dis­closed they had added a new arm to the study, com­bin­ing the cor­ti­cos­teroid budes­onide to help with the pro­phy­lax­is reg­i­men. To­day’s re­lease of the wors­en­ing (vs. last year’s da­ta) di­ar­rhea, helps ex­plain the need for this change in the tri­al. While we view the 12.5% rate of G3 di­ar­rhea as po­ten­tial­ly promis­ing, we point to the small n (16 pa­tients) and to the fact that these da­ta are still ear­ly (i.e. it is pos­si­ble that they ac­tu­al­ly get worse over time, just as the da­ta from arms 1 and 2 did). The up­date in San An­to­nio should have slight­ly more ma­ture da­ta; how­ev­er, we view the fact that lop­eramide alone no longer ap­pears suf­fi­cient to pro­phy­laxe against se­vere di­ar­rhea as a sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive for ner­a­tinib and the stock.

One key point here: Sime­oni­dis has been cau­tious but pos­i­tive about ner­a­tinib’s prospects as a new treat­ment for breast can­cer as it un­der­goes scruti­ny at the FDA. Datasets on 5-year sur­vival and lop­eramide pro­phy­lax­is had im­proved sen­ti­ment around the com­pa­ny’s chances, he not­ed last Sep­tem­ber 20, when the FDA ac­cept­ed Puma’s ap­pli­ca­tion for re­view.

The bear po­si­tion on Puma is that the drug could be too tox­ic even for the FDA, which has proven will­ing to put up with sig­nif­i­cant threats for drugs ini­tial­ly aimed at dy­ing pa­tients. Bulls be­lieve that the safe­ty bar is low enough to clear.

In­vestors were way ahead of Sime­oni­dis to­day, dri­ving down the com­pa­ny stock as Twit­ter quick­ly spread the word to any­one who hadn’t heard al­ready.

Un­lock­ing ESG strate­gies for growth with Gilead Sci­ences

RBC Capital Markets explores what is material in ESG for biopharma companies with the ESG leads at Gilead Sciences. Gilead has long focused on sustainability but recognized a more robust framework was needed. Based on a materiality assessment, Gilead’s ESG strategy today focuses first on drug access and pricing, while also addressing D&I and climate change. Find out why Gilead’s board is “acutely aware” of the contribution that ESG makes to firm’s overall success.

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Richard Pazdur (vis AACR)

FDA en­cour­ages in­clud­ing in­cur­able can­cer pa­tients in tri­als, re­gard­less of pri­or ther­a­pies

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Historically, many cancer clinical trials have required that participating patients previously received multiple therapies, according to Richard Pazdur, director of the FDA’s Oncology Center of Excellence.

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Members of the Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee recommended with a 13-4 vote to defer a regulatory decision on Incyte’s retifanlimab until after more data can be collected from a placebo-controlled trial. The PD-1 therapy is due for a PDUFA date in late July after receiving priority review earlier this year.

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Karen Flynn, Catalent

Q&A: When the pan­dem­ic struck, Catal­en­t's CCO had just joined the team

Karen Flynn came aboard Catalent’s team just in time.

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Yuval Cohen, Corbus CEO (Corbus via YouTube)

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Elizabeth Warren (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

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Two top Senate Finance committee senators on Thursday called for a hearing to examine the questions and challenges for Medicare arising from the FDA’s recent approval of Biogen’s Aduhelm, the controversial new drug approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

In a letter to Senate Finance chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and ranking member Mike Crapo (R-ID), subcommittee chair Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) hinted at making policy changes to enable Medicare to more directly connect prescription drug pricing to clinical effectiveness. They raised questions about the “dramatic implications for our health care system” from the approval, which they said “stretch well beyond the scope of FDA’s jurisdiction.”

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