Right DirectionThe findings follow data this summer that showed half of those treated with Amgen’s drug at a wide range of doses responded. The latest results more than doubled the number of patients treated with the highest dose and tracked them for three more months. It’s too early to know how long the benefits will last and whether treatment prolongs patients’ lives.
For such very sick lung-cancer patients, any response rate above 35% would be viewed as an achievement, Jefferies analyst Michael Yee told investors in a note before the latest results.
“The higher the response, the tougher it is” for rivals like Mirati, he said. The small-cap’s shares have nearly doubled this year even though the company has yet to report any data for its KRAS-targeting molecule.
The Amgen results are a clear breakthrough, said Channing Der, professor at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. Previous efforts showed promise in the laboratory, and then failed to deliver, he said.
It’s critical to know how long the patients will benefit from treatment, he said. There is a history of cancer treatments shrinking tumors but failing to help patients live longer, he said. “At the end of the day, if you don’t get an impact on survival, it’s not considered a success,” he said.