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Biotech Stocks Making Headlines: Pharmacyclics, Roche Ink Deal for Cancer Combo Therapy

Pharmacyclics (PCYC) announced that it has teamed up with Roche (RHHBY) for evaluating the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of its oncology treatment, Imbruvica, in combination with the latter’s Gazyva. The companies will assess the cocktail therapy in patients with non-hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL) in multiple clinical trials.

As per the deal, the combination will initially be evaluated in a phase III study in patients with CLL/SLL. The companies intend to evaluate the combination therapy in NHL patients later. Further details on the agreement were not revealed.

We note that Imbruvica, Pharmacyclics’ sole marketed product, is marketed as a monotherapy for the mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) and CLL/SLL indications. Pharmacyclics has a partnership with Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) company). As far as the CLL indication is concerned, the drug is marketed for treating patients who have received one therapy previously.

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Furthermore, the drug is also used to treat CLL in both treatment-naïve and treatment-experienced patients with deletion of the short arm of chromosome 17. Gazyva, on the other hand, is marketed by Roche in combination with chlorambucil (a chemotherapy drug) for treating adults suffering from CLL as a first-line therapy.

We remind investors that this marks the company’s second agreement on Imbruvica within a couple days. Earlier in the week, Pharmacyclics and Johnson & Johnson teamed up with biopharmaceutical major Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) to evaluate Imbruvica in combination with Opdivo in NHL patients. We expect investor focus to remain on both deals involving Imbruvica, going forward.

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Pharmacyclics (PCYC) was in the news last week with the company signing an agreement with Roche under which its cancer treatment, Imbruvica, will be evaluated in combination with Roche’s Gazyva. Moreover, Imbruvica gained EU approval for two types of blood cancer and Pharmacyclics is now looking to get Imbruvica’s label expanded in the U.S. for Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, a slow-growing, currently incurable, rare type of B-cell lymphoma.

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