Amgen Drug Shrank 37% of Lung Cancer Tumors in Study


An Amgen Inc. lung cancer drug shrank tumors in 37% of patients for whom chemotherapy and other drugs hadn’t worked, and prevented malignancies from progressing for a median of 6.8 months, the company said on Thursday.

The drug, sotorasib, targets an aggressive genetic mutation known as KRAS. About 30,000 lung cancer patients carry the KRAS G12C mutation the treatment targets. If approved, sotorasib will be the first direct inhibitor of the mutation, said Greg Friberg, vice president and therapeutic head, global development at Amgen.

Amgen has filed for approval with regulators in six countries, including the U.S. last month, and a launch could come this year, analysts have said. The therapy is a key part of Amgen’s pipeline, one executives have pointed to as evidence the company can move quickly to develop innovative science.

“We’re really excited about what we see. We think it’s going to fill an unmet need,” Friberg said in a Thursday interview. “We can’t move fast enough, and we can’t underestimate how vicious a foe this is.”

Amgen shares rose as much as 9% after the news was released, but ended the day trading down 1.3% to $247.75.

“These in-line phase 2 results were mostly priced in already,” Geoffrey Porges, a senior research analyst at SVB Leerink, wrote in an investor note. He said he expected approval by mid-year and a launch by the third quarter.

Amgen’s trial focused on a 126-person subset of very sick patients, whose lung cancer had progressed even after they were treated with other medications. About 80% of patients’ disease responded to treatment or remained stable, and the median length of response to treatment was 10 months.

Amgen is also looking at sotorasib as an earlier line of treatment and in other types of cancer, including colorectal and pancreatic cancer.

Early data showed the drug was active across different cancers but had a lower response in colorectal and other tumors. That prompted Amgen to consider who are the best patients to treat and whether the drug works better on its own or in combination, Friberg said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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