GSK, Genmab File sBLA for Arzerra

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GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and partner Genmab announced that they have submitted a supplemental Biologics License Application (sBLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (:FDA) for their oncology drug, Arzerra, for an additional indication. The companies are looking to get the drug approved in combination with Leukeran (chlorambucil) in treatment-naive chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (:CLL) patients. The patients are inappropriate for fludarabine-based therapy.

The sBLA was submitted on the basis of encouraging top-line data from a phase III study (n = 447) on Arzerra. The study compared the efficacy of Arzerra as an adjunct to another oncology drug at Glaxo, Leukeran in treatment-naive CLL patients versus Leukeran alone.

The study met its primary endpoint of progression free survival (PFS/the time a patient lived without worsening of their disease). Data from the study was assessed by an independent review committee. In the Arzerra + Leukeran arm of the study, median PFS of 22.4 months was observed as compared to 13.1 months in the Leukeran arm, representing an improvement of 9.3 months. The full data from the study will be presented at the American Society of Hematology annual meeting, scheduled to be held in Dec 2013.

We remind investors that GlaxoSmithKline and Genmab are also looking to get Arzerra approved in combination with Leukeran for the above mentioned indication in the EU and have submitted a variation to the Marketing Authorisation Application for the same. Meanwhile, Arzerra received Breakthrough Therapy designation from the FDA in Sep 2013.

We note that Arzerra is already approved, since Oct 2009, for the treatment of patients with CLL refractory to Sanofi’s (SNY) Campath (alemtuzumab) and Fludara (fludarabine).

Glaxo, a large cap pharma company, carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). We are pleased with Glaxo’s pipeline development efforts. A number of pipeline-related news is expected in the coming quarters. Given the declining sales due to generic competition, we believe Glaxo’s pipeline must deliver.

Currently, companies like Roche (RHHBY) and Actelion Ltd. (ALIOF) are favorably placed in the pharma space with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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