Merck KGaA’s and Novartis’ Phase II drugs for MET exon 14 skipping mutation require diagnostic adjustments to spur use, experts say

21 Jun 2019

Improving patient identification tools will be key to getting full market traction for Merck KGaA’s (ETR:MRK) tepotinib and Novartis’ (SIX:NOVN) capmatinib after an expected approval in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with MET exon 14 skipping mutations, experts said. Presentations at ASCO earlier in June on initial Phase II data for both drugs were impressive, however, with experts citing interest in using the drug in the first-line (1L) setting.

In terms of detecting MET exon 14 skipping mutations, experts explained that not all next-generation sequence (NGS) tests are equipped to detect such mutations.

While molecular testing for MET exon 14 skipping should be performed on all lung cancers, this is not always the case, and both Merck KGaA and Novartis told this news service they are working on increasing testing.

In terms of differentiation between the two drugs, while an analyst expected capmatinib to be the ‘belle of the MET ball’ due to their physicians’ assessment of capmatinib’s modestly better clinical data than tepotinib and Novartis’ better market presence in the US, interviewed experts disagreed. There were no major efficacy or safety differences between the two ASCO presentations and cross-trial comparisons are confounded by patient profile differences, experts noted.

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