Turns Out Whitehouse Station Is Also Running Small Early Trial (Phase Ib) On Lambrolizumab, In Certain Lung Cancers

You will likely recall that Lambrolizumab is also called MK-3475. It has received breakthrough designation at FDA, for melanoma — or skin cancer. It is provisionally named after the “Lambo-lizards” who get skin cancer on their balding pates, while tooling around, in the southern California sun, top down. That’s a pretty lucrative potential market, for Merck.

It is new to me, anyway, that MRL is also running an early, small (primarily) safety study, in certain previously-treated non-small cell lung cancer patients. That study is showing some decent results, at first blush. So that is some minor good news for Whitehouse Station, post a rather rough day yesterday, on earnings. The NYSE traders tackled Merck for an over 2.4 per cent price sack, yesterday over the thinning pipeline, slowing Januvia growth and generally ho-hum quarter. That top line sales were light — even against reduced Wall Street expectations — is of concern, longer term.

So, today, Merck is touting some happy news. But this won’t ever move the needle, to be sure. It is just not material, to a multinational $47 billion a year in sales pharma company. Here’s a report from Drug Discovery & Development, just the same. Do go read it all:

. . . .The data were presented by Dr. Edward Garon, director of Thoracic Oncology, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, Los Angeles, at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney, Australia.

Detailed interim data were presented for response rates and safety from a cohort of 38 previously-treated NSCLC patients who received MK-3475 10mg/kg every three weeks as well as initial findings from an analysis of the relationship between response rates and PD-L1 expression.

“We are encouraged by these initial responses in NSCLC patients,” said Dr. Eric Rubin, vice president, Oncology, Merck Research Laboratories. . . .

We will keep you posted, but 38 people is truly. . . waifish. My advice? Just don’t read too much into this. But it is encouraging, just the same. Of course, oncologists may always write off label, for non-small lung cancer, once it is approved by FDA for melanoma. . . the reimbursement might get tricky — but it can be done. So. . . stay tuned.


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