Cancer: Sanofi advances with Libtayo

Posted on Sep 21, 2021 at 5:55 PMUpdated on Sep 21, 2021, 6:04 PM

This is enough to give a little balm to the heart at Sanofi. Last February, US authorities approved Libtayo as a first-line treatment for lung cancer. At the ESMO congress, the French laboratory presented the results of a Phase III study testing Libtayo again against lung cancer – but this time in combination with chemotherapy.

And the results are good. They are even better, according to some analysts, than those of some competing products for certain subcategories of patients, although there is no direct comparison. Libtayo combined with chemotherapy is effective in 43% of patients, against 23% for chemotherapy alone, and overall survival goes from 13 to 22 months with half of the workforce stabilizing the disease for eight months.

Credibility of Libtayo

These results come late so that Sanofi can really hope to make a big place in the treatment of the most frequent cancer. Six immunotherapy products based on the same mode of action (anti-PD1 / PDL1) are already authorized as first-line treatment for metastatic lung cancer, whether or not combined with chemotherapy or other immunotherapy. And not the least since it concerns in particular the Keytruda of Merck (14.4 billion dollars of turnover all indications combined), the Opdivo of BMS (7.9 billion dollars) of the Tecentriq of Roche ($ 2.7 billion). . .

However, testing its anti-PD1 / PDL1 against this type of cancer remains a necessary step to establish its credibility and have chances of convincing laboratories that it is in their interest to combine their anticancer drugs with Libtayo to treat other types of cancer. . Such a strategy aimed at focusing on cancer subtypes that have not yet been explored by the majors in the field could nevertheless prove to be profitable, given the high price of these treatments and would allow Sanofi, which left later, to get some slices of the cake anyway.

Broken prices?

On the condition of course that prices are maintained, which has been the case until now despite the competition. But that might not last, with Lilly’s submission to the American authorities last May of a seventh anti-PD1 / PDL1 developed in China at a lower cost, which the American group bought from its local partner Innovent for 1 billion. of dollars.

To gain a foothold in a cancer market whose smallest niches have been explored, Lilly could decide to slash the prices of anti-PD1 / PDL1, a strategy he has already practiced successfully in diabetes.

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