ASCO Showdown: AstraZeneca vs. Clovis Oncology

The annual meeting brings together some of the world's most exciting emerging cancer treatments, and after only a day AztraZenica and Clovis are making waves as the compete in the lung cancer market.

Jun 2, 2014 at 9:35AM

The 2014 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists kicked off this weekend with an early battle between AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and Clovis Oncology (NASDAQ:CLVS). While much of the excitement at ASCO this year will focus on immunotherapy partnerships as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, and Roche (NASDAQOTH:RHHBY) try to carve out market share, the data early in the conference has sparked some discussion of non-immunotherapy drug candidates.

AstraZeneca's AZ9291 and Clovis' CO-1686 are both next-generation epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors. EGFR expression can run rampant in cancer cells, causing them to proliferate uncontrollably. By blocking EGFR, it's possible to cut off the signal responsible for tumor growth.

That was the goal of Roche with its first-generation EGFR inhibitor Tarceva. With FDA approvals for second or third-line treatment in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), first-line treatment in NSCLC patients with a specific EGFR genotype, and first-line treatment in pancreatic cancer, Tarceva has achieved blockbuster status and accounted for 4% of Roche's revenue in 2013. Now, Roche has undertaken what's become the norm and has partnered tumor-targeted therapies with its own immunotherapy candidate MPDL3280A. That should help defend Tarceva's status in what's poised to become a crowded market.

Unfortunately, the rapid proliferation of cancer cells in NSCLC often leads to EGFR-inhibitor resistance, potentially making continued treatment with Tarceva and AstraZeneca drug Iressa less useful. Now, AstraZeneca and Clovis are hoping to overcome that resistance with next-generation EGFR inhibitors. In May, AstraZeneca released Phase 1 data for AZ9291 in patients with advanced NSCLC. In patients that tested positive for the mutation that confers EGFR inhibitor resistance, AZD9291 had a 64% response rate. This weekend at ASCO, Clovis presented comparable numbers from its Phase 1/2 trial of CO-1686, with a 58% ORR.

While efficacy so far may work out to a wash, it's still too early to tell which drug has a better impact on patient survival and safety. Clovis is continuing to lets its trial ride, with median progression free survival (PFS) looking to exceed 12 months. The company is also enrolling patients in larger registrational studies throughout 2014. AstraZeneca's trial already enrolled a larger number of patients which could support early registration under its Breakthrough Designation at the FDA (CO-1686 has been granted FDA Breakthrough Designation as well). In the meantime, AstraZeneca is gearing up for Phase 3 trials.

The numbers could be crucial for the futures of both companies. For Clovis, CO-1686 represents one of two hopeful late-stage candidates aside PARP inhibitor rucaparib. With a market cap of $1.74 billion and $0 in revenue for 2013, CO-1686 will continue to provide critical binary events for investors to watch.

For AstraZeneca, AZD9291 is one of two oncology drugs garnering attention as the company distances itself from a Pfizer takeover bid. The company has to put its money where its mouth is and follow through on CEO Pascal Soriot's promise to shareholders that AstraZeneca would reach $45 billion in annual sales by 2023. AZD9291 approval would be the first step in achieving that lofty goal, and could go a long way in replacing revenue lost when top seller Crestor loses patent protection in 2016.

Final thoughts
Things are looking to really heat up at ASCO this yea, as the reality of a new realm in cancer treatments comes into view. AstraZeneca and Clovis kicked things off with some drama of their own. Don't forget to keep an eye out for late-stage trials and partnership deals for AZD9291 and CO-1686, as those will really determine the future winner in this emerging market battle.

Invest in the next wave of health care innovation
The Economist compares this disruptive invention to the steam engine and the printing press. Business Insider says it's "the next trillion dollar industry." And the technology behind is poised to set off one of the most remarkable health care revolutions in decades. The Motley Fool's exclusive research presentation dives into this technology's true potential, and its ability to make life-changing medical solutions never thought possible. To learn how you can invest in this unbelievable new technology, click here now to see our free report.

Seth Robey has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers