If treating metastatic cancer is good, then preventing it is even better. And by "better," I mean it'll generate additional sales -- blockbuster sales, in fact.
New data, however, is a whole different ball game. According to top-line data released yesterday, Xgeva is able to delay the appearance of those bone metastases in prostate cancer patients. Metastasis-free survival -- the time it takes for the first metastasis or death from cancer to occur -- was 4.2 months longer in patients taking Xgeva, compared with those taking placebo.
The data isn't completely cut and dried though. The trial didn't show that it helped patients live longer -- the ultimate goal of any cancer drug. While delaying painful bone metastasis and the resulting breaks is a good thing, Xgeva is known to cause osteonecrosis of the jaw -- essentially, death of the jawbone.
The FDA and doctors, who could theoretically prescribe Xgeva off-label right now, will have to balance the risk and benefit without overall survival data to justify the use. Ultimately, I think Xgeva will be approved for the expanded use, but expect that there will be a lot of controversy along the way.
As for drugs that treat post-metastasis prostate cancer -- sanofi-aventis'
Xgeva is also being tested in breast-cancer patients for its ability to delay the formation of bone metastasis in that cancer type. The prostate-cancer data should give investors high hopes. But Zometa, a similar bone drug from Novartis
The delay waiting for the breast cancer results will be a lot longer than 4.2 months, though; Amgen says it won't be available until about 2016.
Anand Chokkavelu presents the most shocking buy opportunity in the market.
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