- One of Gilead's top cancer researchers, Phillipe Bishop, left the company in February after being hired a little over a year ago to spearhead Gilead's oncology development, according to The Street. Gilead separately announced this week the halt of six clinical trials involving its blood cancer drug Zydelig.
- Gilead stopped the trials after an increase in the number of adverse events, including infection deaths. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has launched an investigation into the three of the trials, which combined Zydelig with other cancer drugs.
- Zydelig is currently indicated in the U.S. as a monotherapy for third-line treatment of follicular lymphoma and small lymphocytic lymphoma. It also is approved as part of combo therapy with Roche's Rituxan (rituximab) for treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Gilead Chief Scientific Officer Norbert Bischofberger told The Street that the decision for Bishop to leave was unrelated to the challenges with Zydelig. Beyond that, he did not provide additional details.
However, the departure of Bishop coupled with the clinical trial problems could leave Gilead's oncology foray in a precarious position. Zydelig has had less than stellar sales since its approval in summer 2014. Last year, total sales were $132 million. Gilead has other drugs in its oncology pipeline, but none that are as far along as Zydelig.
The company has been dominant in HIV and Hepatitis C, pulling in over $30 billion from its antiviral products last year. But, sales are expected to be flat this year as growth in those two areas slows, hence the interest in seeing Gilead push into a new therapeutic space. The company currently has $26 billion in cash and equivalents and continues to hunt for a deal which fits its strategy.