Clinical Ipsen develops a potential cure for pancreatic cancer

Ipsen develops a potential cure for pancreatic cancer


A combination of comprising of pancreatic cancer medicine Onivyde and chemotherapy has helped lengthen the lives of newly diagnosed patients with metastatic illness- a discovery that benefits both the drug’s owner, Ipsen, and the biotechnology firm that created the treatment, Merrimack.

Ipsen in their Phase 3 study stated the Onivyde-chemo combo has shown promising efficacy against pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, more than that of different chemo approaches. Ipsen did not disclose specifics, such as the drug’s impact size, but stated that a detailed approach will be provided at a future medical meetup shortly.

Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Onivyde’s original developer, saw its stock rise more than 200% in response to the announcement. Merrimack Pharmaceuticals is no longer researching pharmaceuticals, having let off all of its staff in 2019 following years of financial difficulties and clinical disappointments. However, the company’s stock remains publicly traded as a result of a 2017 transaction in which Ipsen purchased Onivyde rights.

As per the agreement, the company shareholders are eligible to receive more than $220 million on the condition that the medication is approved by the FDA, an indication Ipsen wants to pursue in light of the results released recently.

Onivyde, which is an extensive form of the chemotherapy irinotecan, was authorized by the FDA in 2015 for patients whose pancreatic cancer had not responded to first-line treatment. Merrimack, on the other hand, failed to join hands with Onivyde. The investors were not satisfied with the sales numbers as they did not meet their expectations. 

Due to this, the research and development expenditures of the company increased unconditionally because of which the company never got a chance to change its status to a profitably developed company. Merrimack responded in 2016 by eliminating staff and reorganizing, and a year later sold rights to Onivyde to support other projects.

Those attempts, however, backfired, causing the business to sell off its other assets and terminate its remaining employees after failing to find a buyer. However, Merrimack saved enough funds to keep the company running until 2027, when the final Ipsen milestone could be met.

For Ipsen, the new findings might help extend access to newly diagnosed pancreatic cancer patients which is considered a difficult form of cancer to be cured.

The 770-person research compared Onivyde and chemotherapies often used with irinotecan versus a separate, conventional chemo regimen for pancreatic cancer. According to Ipsen, patients who received the Onivyde combination survived longer than those who received the comparator medication, and the difference was noticeable. The Onivyde combination also kept tumors at bay for a longer period of time, which was an important secondary aim.

In 2021, Ipsen announced Onivyde sales of over 125 million euros and in U.S. dollars over $150 million.

Each year, around 60,000 new cases of aggressive cancer are diagnosed in the United States, and less than 20% survive for more than a year, making survival a crucial trial objective.

So far this year, Ipsen’s oncology franchise has generated €1.77 billion in revenues, including €603.1 million this quarter, representing a 1.2% growth at constant currency rates over the third quarter of last year. Onivyde donated €38.8 million this quarter and €122 million this year to that total. The 5.3% drop since the third quarter of last year was attributed to “the impact of the phasing of 2022 sales” to the drug’s ex-U.S. partner.

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