AbbVie's Rova-T Phase I generates enthusiasm for SCLC potential despite investor malaise - oncologists

08 Jun 2016

AbbVie's (NYSE:ABBV) Rova-T (rovalpituzumab tesirine) has generated excitement among experts for its future in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) following Phase I results presented at ASCO. Wall Street's negative reaction to the data sparked confusion among some oncologists, who noted that investors had failed to grasp some key contextual points when reviewing the results.

The company's shares were down 4% on 6 June, after reporting preliminary results over the weekend at the ASCO 2016 conference, which closed yesterday (7 June). Media coverage of the results were also negative, with a number of articles referencing the one-month overall survival (OS) improvement in the patients with high expression of DLL3 as disappointing. On 28 April, AbbVie announced the USD 5.8bn purchase of Stemcentrx, the original manufacturer of Rova-T.

While the survival benefit itself may not seem overly impressive, the trial (NCT01901653) was a relatively small Phase I not designed to detect a marked difference in survival, explained the oncologists. SCLC is a condition that has seen very few positive results in the last 30-40 years, so any benefit is somewhat exciting, they explained.

There were some dose-limiting toxicities that may require monitoring in future trials, oncologists noted. However, the hope is that by limiting the dose, safety concerns will be mitigated.

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