Roche, Bayer neck and neck over approval of two new cancer therapies

Multinationals Bayer and Roche have presented at the ESMO Congress, currently held in Munich, new clinical data about their cancer drugs Entrectinib (Roche) and Larotrectinib (Bayer, in partnership with Loxo). The two molecules are identical and it comes as no surprise that the results from the two trials are fairly similar, despite those delivered by Bayer’s therapy seem slightly better, which could make a FDA authorization procedure faster (likely to start in November). The two therapies also have the same mode of action: indeed, they both target a number of cancers with specific gene mutations in TRK receptors. This means that the companies aim to have their drugs approved not for cancers affecting specific organs, but simply for every cancer type with the same gene mutations in TRK receptors–that is an estimated 1% of all cancer types.

Interestingly, both companies have not internally developed the treatments, indeed Entrectinib comes from the $1.7bn acquisition of Roche’s Inlyta, while Larotrectinib joined Bayer’s portfolio as the company entered into a partnership with Loxo, which has cost it $400m up to now. Larotrectinib has potential to generate €1.7bn pa, also thanks to the excellent results obtained, analysts say: Bayer, indeed, has tested Larotrectinib on 122 patients with different cancer types and has detected improvement in 80% of cases and even complete response in 18% of cases. In patients treated with Roche’s Entrectinib, response was observed in as little as 57% of patients, and in 77% of people with lung cancer.

(Source: Handelsblatt)