Oncologists on Twitter are talking up ASCO studies, health equity and burnout, according to new deep dive research from Harris Poll (via Shutterstock)

What’s been on in­flu­en­tial on­col­o­gist­s' minds? Most­ly AS­CO, but al­so health eq­ui­ty, ac­cord­ing to new Har­ris Poll re­search

Over the past few months, on­col­o­gists have been talk­ing a lot about the AS­CO con­fer­ence. Not sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing its im­port and the study da­ta pre­sent­ed, but what may be less ex­pect­ed is the sec­ond most talked about top­ic of health eq­ui­ty.

That’s ac­cord­ing to da­ta from The Har­ris Poll and the new ex­pert net­work the re­searcher is build­ing out. While the com­pa­ny has been do­ing deep da­ta dives in­to spe­cif­ic health is­sues or con­di­tions for phar­ma clients, it’s now mon­i­tor­ing in­flu­encer net­works of ther­a­py area spe­cial­ists to find out what ex­perts are re­al­ly think­ing about.

“The key el­e­ment of this work is that we are get­ting to the re­al ‘in­sid­er’ ex­pert point of view,” Har­ris Poll man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Rob Jekielek said. “First by build­ing an on­col­o­gy-cen­tric, high in­flu­ence net­work, then by look­ing deeply in­to the con­tent and dis­cus­sions that res­onate most, specif­i­cal­ly with­in that net­work of ex­perts.”

Its first on­col­o­gy ex­pert dive pre­viewed for End­points News looks at what Twit­ter in­flu­en­tial can­cer doc­tors were post­ing, chat­ting up and retweet­ing from March through the end of June. AS­CO, held dur­ing the first week of June, fu­eled the lead­ing theme of clin­i­cal tri­als and stud­ies among 61% of the on­col­o­gists, while health eq­ui­ty came in sec­ond with 15% men­tion­ing re­lat­ed top­ics. On­col­o­gists’ men­tal health and burnout was a less­er trend­ing top­ic, but still no­table with 6% talk­ing about it.

Among the spe­cif­ic clin­i­cal tri­als and stud­ies talked about, the As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi Sankyo’s Des­tiny study pre­sent­ed on En­her­tu (trastuzum­ab derux­te­can) in pre­vi­ous­ly treat­ed HER2-low ad­vanced breast can­cer led the way with 19% talk­ing about it on Twit­ter. Tied for the sec­ond-most dis­cussed study at 11% were GSK’s PD-1 block­er dostar­limab-gx­ly (Jem­per­li) rec­tal can­cer tri­al and the Cos­mic-021 for cabozan­ti­nib–ate­zolizum­ab (Ex­elix­is’ Cabome­tyx and Roche’s Tecen­triq) to treat urothe­lial car­ci­no­ma.

Along­side those study dis­cus­sions were re­lat­ed health eq­ui­ty takes, es­pe­cial­ly around ac­cess and tri­al di­ver­si­ty. The par­al­lel com­men­tary “kind of poked holes” in the tri­als by look­ing at them through an in­equity lens, Jekielek said.

For ex­am­ple, one in­flu­encer wrote: “I don’t want to bring peo­ple down but while the re­sults are great, the Des­tiny of MOST women with #bc­sm world­wide will be NOT to get trastuzum­ab derux­te­can since they can­not even ac­cess surgery, ra­dio­ther­a­py, en­docrine ther­a­py or trastuzum­ab. We need to do bet­ter.”

“Around AS­CO there are very spe­cif­ic tri­als and stud­ies that are cit­ed and re­leased and you can see the ones that stand out the most,” Jekielek said. “The thing that’s equal­ly in­ter­est­ing is the de­gree of fo­cus on health eq­ui­ty with­in the AS­CO con­ver­sa­tion and di­rect­ly tied to both health­care prac­ti­tion­ers as well as how tri­als and stud­ies are built.”

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Uğur Şahin, BioNTech CEO (Kay Nietfeld/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

De­spite falling Covid-19 sales, BioN­Tech main­tains '22 sales guid­ance

While Pfizer raked in almost $28 billion last quarter, its Covid-19 vaccine partner BioNTech reported a rise in total dose orders but a drop in sales.

The German biotech reported over $3.2 billion in revenue in Q2 on Monday, down from more than $6.7 billion in Q1, in part due to falling Covid sales. While management said last quarter that they anticipated a Covid sales drop — CEO Uğur Şahin said at the time that “the pandemic situation is still very much uncertain” — Q2 sales still missed consensus by 14%.

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Anna Protopapas, Mersana CEO

In $1.36B biobuck deal with GSK, Mer­sana touts 'biggest pre­clin­i­cal ADC deal ever'

Days after Enhertu reeled in another FDA nod, with the first-ever green light for HER2-low breast cancer, another antibody drug conjugate biotech claims it has secured the largest preclinical ADC pact to date for a single asset.

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo made waves with their nearly $7 billion collaboration back in spring 2019, but at that point, Enhertu was already nearing the FDA’s doors with clinical data. The latest ADC tie-up to enter the biopharma fray centers around a preclinical asset, Mersana Therapeutics’ XMT-2056.

Ted Love, Global Blood Therapeutics CEO

Up­dat­ed: Pfiz­er scoops up Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics and its sick­le cell ther­a­pies for $5.4B

Pfizer is dropping $5.4 billion to acquire Global Blood Therapeutics.

Just ahead of the weekend, word got out that Pfizer was close to clinching a $5 billion buyout — albeit with other potential buyers still at the table. The pharma giant, flush with cash from Covid-19 vaccine sales, apparently got out on top.

The deal immediately swells Pfizer’s previously tiny sickle cell disease portfolio from just a Phase I program to one with an approved drug, Oxbryta, plus a whole pipeline that, if all approved, the company believes could make for a $3 billion franchise at peak.

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Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO (David Zorrakino/Europa Press via AP Images)

As­traZeneca and Dai­ichi Sankyo sprint to mar­ket af­ter FDA clears En­her­tu in just two weeks

Regulators didn’t keep AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo waiting long at all for their latest Enhertu approval.

The partners pulled a win on Friday in HER2-low breast cancer patients who’ve already failed on chemotherapy, just two weeks after submitting a supplemental BLA. While this isn’t the FDA’s fastest approval — Bristol Myers Squibb won an OK for its blockbuster checkpoint inhibitor Opdivo in just five days back in March — it comes well ahead of Enhertu’s original Q4 PDUFA date.

David Reese, Amgen R&D chief

UP­DAT­ED: In a fresh dis­ap­point­ment, Am­gen spot­lights a ma­jor safe­ty is­sue with KRAS com­bo

Amgen had hoped that its latest study matching its landmark KRAS G12C drug Lumakras with checkpoint inhibitors would open up its treatment horizons and expand its commercial potential. Instead, the combo spurred safety issues that blunted efficacy and forced the pharma giant to alter course on its treatment strategy, once again disappointing analysts who have been tracking the drug’s faltering sales and limited therapeutic reach.

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Ab­b­Vie sur­veys emo­tion­al im­pact of chron­ic leukemia con­di­tion, finds 'roller coast­er' of emo­tions

Rare diseases often have more than just physical effects on patients — especially when it comes to chronic conditions. In the case of the rare slow-growing blood cancer chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), AbbVie wanted to try to assess the mental and emotional toll on patients.

So it surveyed more than 300 CLL patients, caregivers and physicians. While each group differed in how they felt — caregivers overwhelmingly (81%) felt positive about their role, for instance — patients described a “roller coaster” of emotions traversing diagnosis to treatment to remission and even relapse for some.

Sen­ate Dems cling to a sim­ple ma­jor­i­ty to pass some of the biggest drug pric­ing re­forms ever

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — and their fleet of drug industry lobbyists on Capitol Hill — are known for never losing.

Whenever a big drug pricing bill comes up, an army of the industry group’s lobbyists descend onto the Hill and either smash it outright or dismantle it piece by piece.

But for perhaps the largest drug pricing reforms ever enacted, after more than a decade of Congress trying and failing to allow Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, those same lobbyists and their biopharma clients were dealt a stunning blow on Sunday afternoon.

FDA commissioner Rob Califf (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

With drug pric­ing al­most done, Con­gress looks to wrap up FDA user fee leg­is­la­tion

The Senate won’t return from its summer recess until Sept. 6, but when it does, it officially has 18 business days to finalize the reauthorization of the FDA user fee programs for the next 5 years, or else thousands of drug and biologics reviewers will be laid off and PDUFA dates will vanish in the interim.

FDA commissioner Rob Califf recently sent agency staff a memo explaining how, “Our latest estimates are that we have carryover for PDUFA [Prescription Drug User Fee Act], the user fee funding program that will run out of funding first, to cover only about 5 weeks into the next fiscal year.”