- Pfizer plans to test three immunotherapies together as a combination treatment in human trials starting next year, FT reports. The PD-L1 drug avelumab, which Pfizer is developing with the German Merck, will form the backbone of the triple combo drug.
- While immuno-oncology drugs such as (US) Merck's Keytruda and Bristol-Myers Squbb's Opdivo have shown sometimes dramatic efficacy, not all patients experience the same benefits. Pfizer hopes the combination treatment could more fully unlock the potential of immuno-oncology drugs for a wider group of patients.
- Avelumab will be paired with utomilumab and another drug known as OX40, FT said.
Pfizer has a solid oncology portfolio, with several standouts. They include the blockbuster breast cancer drug Ibrance, as well as Xalkori for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), Inlyta for kidney cancer, and Sutent for liver cancer. Pfizer is reportedly in the mix for the US cancer company Medivation as well, although a number of other drugmakers are also interested. So far only Sanofi has gone public with a bid.
Medivation co-markets the prostate cancer drug Xtandi, which generated almost $2 billion in revenues.
However, when it comes to immuno-oncology, Pfizer has lagged its competitors, watching as Bristol Myers and Merck made early, and successful, forays into the market. Pfizer is betting big with its combo-testing efforts, testing other combinations, such as avelumab with Verastem's drug VS-6063.
A major goal is to be able to more successfully treat solid-tumor cancers and overcome the built-in resistance that often occurs with these types of treatments.
As Mikael Dolsten, who heads up Pfizer's R&D told The Financial Times, "To go from months to years, there is only one path, and that is combination therapies."
This post has been updated.