Roche silently scraps two one-time blockbuster hopefuls as $725M Seragon deal craters

The buttoned down execs at Roche don’t traditionally spend much time mourning dead programs or fatal deals. But its brief summary of the pharma giant’s Q4 drug discards is notably silent — even by Roche standards — on two big setbacks on a pair of drugs that once held a key place in its lineup of potential blockbusters.

Last April the pharma giant told me that after burying the lead selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs) program from their $725 million Seragon buyout — which also included about a billion in milestones — researchers were turning to another drug they had bagged in the deal. But this morning, their follow-up breast cancer program for RG-6047 — also known as GDC-0927 — got cut.

There’s no word why, though Roche considered it their best shot at a best-in-class drug in the field, declaring it was a good shot at redefining “the standard of care for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.”

On Thursday afternoon, Roche offered me this statement:

  • In 2017, Genentech decided to halt further clinical development and ongoing studies evaluating GDC-0927 while we evaluate our strategic options for our SERD program.
  • We have learned much about the SERD biology with targeting the estrogen receptor. Based on current data, we have decided to move forward with GDC-9545, another next-generation oral SERD in patients with metastatic hormone receptor-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer.

These SERDs were left over after J&J made off with Rich Heyman’s lead prostate cancer drug at Aragon, apalutamide, which now figures prominently as the pharma giant appears on the verge of losing its patent protection on Zytiga — with Pfizer breathing down its neck with new data coming up for nonmetastatic cases.

Severin Schwan

Roche never did put out a release on the second big Phase III failure of its one-time blockbuster candidate lampalizumab. Instead, they stuck with a statement in November that managed to be widely ignored at the time. And it is just as quietly sweeping out the Phase III drug from its pipeline today, an ignominious end to a drug that once was held up as a top prospect by Roche CEO Severin Schwan.

Analysts at Jefferies once pegged peak potential sales at $2 billion.

The pharma giant noted the end to lampalizumab in its summary of programs removed from the pipeline today. The eye drug, a back-to-back failure in geographic atrophy, was tossed into the scrap pile along with a Phase II combo for Kadcyla and Tecentriq, its big PD-L1 checkpoint.

Early-stage drugs in the discard group also include:

  • mBC RG7203 PDE10A inh
  • schizophrenia RG7986 ADC – r/r NHL

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