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Bavencio: Still Promising Opportunity for Pfizer in 2018

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Bavencio’s growth trends

Pfizer (PFE) and Merck KGaA have already received approval from the FDA for Bavencio (avelumab) in the niche indications of metastatic Merkel cell carcinoma and second-line plus locally advanced or metastatic urothelial carcinoma. While the company has not proved to be a key player in the area of monotherapy immuno-oncology drugs, it’s focused on positioning itself as a prominent player in the area of immuno-oncology combination regimens. The company is currently studying Bavencio in approximately 30 clinical trials comprising ~7,000 enrollees across 15 tumor types.

The above diagram highlights various mechanisms explored or currently being evaluated by Pfizer in the lung cancer indication.

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Bavencio research programs

In February 2018, Pfizer announced that its Phase 3 JAVELIN Lung 200 trial comparing Bavencio with docetaxel as a second-line treatment option in patients suffering with unresectable, recurrent, or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (or NSCLC) did not meet its endpoint of overall survival (or OS). The company has attributed this failure to a higher-than-anticipated crossover rate in the trial. Despite that, Pfizer has noted improvements in OS in patients with moderate to high levels of PD-L1+ expression.

Pfizer currently has five ongoing pivotal studies evaluating Bavencio-based combinations. The results are expected to be released by the end of 2019.

In December 2017, Pfizer secured breakthrough therapy designation for its Bavencio-Inlyta combination therapy as a first-line treatment option in the advanced renal cell carcinoma indication. Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and Roche Holdings (RHHBY) are also actively involved in advancing their immunotherapy-based combination regimens in the renal cancer indication. If Bavencio-Inlyta is approved as a treatment option for renal cancer, the company will be competing with existing renal cancer players Roche Holdings and Novartis (NVS).

Pfizer is also studying the triplet combination of Bavencio, 4-1BB agent, and OX40 monoclonal antibody in solid tumor indications in 2018.

Bavencio is also being studied in combination with chemotherapy agents in second-line and third-line ovarian cancer indications and as a first-line maintenance therapy after chemotherapy in gastric cancer and bladder cancer indications.

In the next part of this series, we’ll look at growth prospects for Eliquis and Xeljanz.

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