ASCO '12 Standouts: Bristol Wows, J&J Hits Dendreon Hard

The markets opened on Monday with a host of new data from ASCO, including impressive news from Bristol and bad news for Dendreon.

When the markets opened Monday morning it was with fresh new data from the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago. Over the weekend took the stage to present trial and drug data.

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) was one of the companies that stole the show with its immune therapy that shrunk tumors in three out of five cancer groups. Bristol’s stock started the day at $34.03, up 2.07% over its previous close, but then dropped back down to $33.56, up only 0.72%, by 11 a.m.

The anti-PD-1 drug, BMS-936558, is still in a very early-stage program, but the fact that it spurred tumor shrinkage in 18% of 72 lung cancer patients, close to a third of 98 melanoma patients and 27% of 33 kidney cancer patients, has made the drug closely watched. Colon and prostate cancer patients were also treated, but there was no major tumor shrinkage. Bristol also reported that the disease was stable in some patients for at least half a year, including 7% of lung cancer patients.

“This level of response in patients with advanced lung cancer, which is typically not responsive to immune-based therapies, was unexpected and notable, Julie Brahmer, MD, associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins, told FierceBiotech.

According to Bloomberg, Merck & Co., Roche, Teva Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline are all in early stages of testing similar drugs.

In bad news for Dendreon (DNDN), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) presented impressive data on Zytiga among pre-chemo prostate cancer patients, despite the fact that it ended its study early. J&J’s stock started the day above its Friday close and only continued to climb on Monday morning. Right now, Zytiga is approved for post-chemo use; however, it is used off-label for pre-chemo. The investigators estimated a 33% improvement over the overall progression-free survival rate of 8.3 months.

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Dendreon

Johnson & Johnson

In the second half of the year, the company will file for expanded approval for the use of Zytiga, which would make it compete even more directly with Dendreon’s stumbling Provenge. Despite the fact that investors expected ASCO to be mostly bad news for Dendreon, the stock dropped 5.47% from Friday’s close at $6.76 to Monday’s open at $6.39.

Medivation (MDVN) had a bit of a roller coaster morning, starting the day at $86.26, up 4.33% over Friday’s $82.68 close before falling by 5.77% from its opening price and then slowly creeping back up to $83.24 just before 11 a.m. Despite the fact that Medivation didn’t present any significant data, it has been generating interest because it is developing a treatment similar to Zytiga.

The company presented new secondary endpoint data showing that its pill, enzalutamide, improved quality of life and delayed the time it took for the cancer to spread to bone in men with a castration-resistant form of the disease.

Jefferies raised its median target price for Medivation to $105 from $97. The firm said it thinks enzalutamide can match or beat Zytiga’s overall survival results.

The information contained in this article should not be construed as investment advice or as a solicitation to buy or sell any stock.

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