Pipeline - Pharmaceutical Executive

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Pipeline
Rays of Light


Pharmaceutical Executive


Price is also becoming an ever-more-important factor in cancer treatment decisions. As a small molecule drug, Tykerb might be cheaper to manufacture than a biologic, according to Allan Haberman, principal of Haberman Associates, a consulting firm. For these reasons, sales of Tykerb could easily surpass those of Herceptin. "It could have as great, if not greater, commercial potential," says Michael Coggins, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie. –BH

Zactima AstraZeneca

TARGET INDICATION Lung and thyroid cancer
DEVELOPMENT Phase III
LAUNCH DATE 2008
PEAK ANNUAL SALES $400 million

The problem in lung cancer is that most oncology products give patients only a few more months of life, and low quality of life," says Allan Haberman, author of a study on emerging targets in lung cancer.

AstraZeneca is trying to change that. The company's oral anti-VEGF drug has a multi-targeted mechanism of action that could prove effective in a number of cancers, including lung. Currently in clinical trials to treat small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer, it has received orphan-drug designation for several forms of advanced thyroid cancer as well. In addition to VEGFR (vascular endothelial growth factor receptor), Zactima (vandetanib) also inhibits EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) and RET-kinase.

If approved, the drug would compete with Genentech's non-small-cell lung cancer drug Tarceva (erlotinib)—which is also approved for advanced pancreatic cancer—and Erbitux (cetuximab), Bristol-Myers Squibb's colorectal cancer drug, another EGFR-inhibitor.

Right now, AstraZeneca says the drug is showing "subtle" improvements in boosting survival rates and reducing side effects in lung cancer patients. But even subtle improvements in the oncology market often mean big profits for drug makers, says Michael Coggins, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie. –BH

Hep to HCV: Novartis Leads Charge in Hepatitis C

Telaprevir Vertex

TARGET INDICATION Hepatitis C
DEVELOPMENT Phase IIb, fast-track
LAUNCH DATE 2009
PEAK ANNUAL SALES $2.7 billion

Valopicitabine Idenix/Novartis

TARGET INDICATION Hepatitis C
DEVELOPMENT Phase IIb
LAUNCH DATE 2010
PEAK ANNUAL SALES $250 million

Albuferon Human Genome Sciences/Novartis


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