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Can Pfizer Beat Sanofi and Regeneron in the Eczema Market?

By Keith Speights and Brian Orelli, PhD – Sep 11, 2021 at 6:12AM

Key Points

  • Pfizer recently reported late-stage results that showed abrocitinib performed better in treating eczema than Sanofi's and Regeneron's Dupixent.
  • The problem for abrocitinib is that it's a JAK inhibitor, a class of drugs that is linked with some serious health issues.

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Pfizer's abrocitinib faces some challenges despite encouraging late-stage results for the drug in treating eczema.

Pfizer (PFE -0.33%) recently reported positive results for its experimental drug abrocitinib in a late-stage study targeting eczema, an inflammatory skin disease also known as atopic dermatitis. The study featured a head-to-head comparison between Pfizer's drug and Dupixent, which is marketed by Sanofi (SNY -1.88%) and Regeneron (REGN 0.68%).

Could Pfizer beat Sanofi and Regeneron in the eczema market? That's the topic of discussion in this Motley Fool Live video recorded on Sept. 1, 2021, with Motley Fool contributors Keith Speights and Brian Orelli.

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Keith Speights: Let's turn to some non-COVID news for some big players in the COVID-19 market. Pfizer recently reported its top-line results from a phase 3 study of abrocitinib. This study was a head-to-head comparison between abrocitinib and Sanofi's and Regeneron's Dupixent in treating eczema (or atopic dermatitis).

Brian, what do you think about Pfizer's news here? Does the company have a chance of even beating Sanofi and Regeneron in the eczema market?

Brian Orelli: This was a top-line result, all we know is that the trial was successful, we don't actually have any data.

The study measured the percent of patients who had a four-point improvement on a scale that measures itching. Then they also measured the percent of patients who had a 90 percent clearance of their eczema.

Abrocitinib beat Dupixent on both of those endpoints. We just don't know by how much and obviously, the delta there and how many more people were helped. This obviously is going to be very important, but Pfizer's saving that data for a medical meeting or for a publication. Well, efficacy is certainly important, so is safety.

Abrocitinib is in the JAK class, which is has been marred with safety issues since the post-marketing study of Pfizer's Xeljanz showed that the drug had a higher rate of cardiovascular issues and also higher rates of cancer. There were two deaths in this study that was just published.

One was COVID-19 related, so probably not that big of a deal. But the other one was an intracranial hemorrhage and cardiorespiratory arrest. That's clearly cardiovascular. The investigators characterize it as unrelated to the drug. But I think it's just going to add fuel to this fire with the safety issues with JAK inhibitors.

Ever since, abrocitinib is under FDA review for eczema. The FDA has put off a decision on the drug. The  PDUFA date has already passed. The goal that the FDA sets for itself to make a decision and it let that PDUFA date pass, because it's still reviewing the Xeljanz data. So it's going to make it a decision on the Xeljanz data and then make a decision on abrocitinib and a few other JAK inhibitors that also are under review that should have already had a decision for. We'll have to wait and see what warning abrocitinib gets before we can really know how well it can compete against Dupixent.

Keith Speights owns shares of Pfizer. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Pfizer Stock Quote
Pfizer
PFE
$50.91 (-0.33%) $0.17
Sanofi Stock Quote
Sanofi
SNY
$45.01 (-1.88%) $0.86
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Stock Quote
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
REGN
$766.39 (0.68%) $5.15

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