Your 2022 wildcard predictions revealed
Could Aduhelm be pulled? Will Incyte get acquired? Here are some of your wildest New Year predictions.
OK, so we all know that the markets are down and deal activity has slumped, oh, and there’s also this pandemic going on. These are all factors that will have a major effect on what many in biopharma expect the New Year to bring. But what about some really off-the-wall scenarios?
During the course of industry interviews for Evaluate Vantage’s 2022 Preview we asked participants for some “left-field predictions”. Though by definition many of these cannot represent realistic possibilities, the fact that prominent biopharma industry people are thinking about them should be of interest to those who like to consider all eventualities.
Brad Loncar, chief executive of Loncar Investments and a biotech investor, suggested Lilly/Innovent’s anti-PD-1 Tyvyt being launched at a steep discount, with this serving as a “wakeup call to the industry and investors that drug pricing is shifting from a tailwind to a headwind for our industry”.
Of course, the FDA's Richard Pazdur's recent U-turn, implying that only head-to-head studies in the US will suffice for latecomers like Tyvyt, has done nothing for hopes of low-cost PD-(L)1 competition, and Bernstein reckons it has killed them. Tyvyt's adcom on February 10 will be a test case of the US acceptability of a China-run trial.
Talking of pricing, the disastrous launch of Aduhelm has been on many people’s minds, and just this week Biogen slashed the drug's price in half in the hope of improving uptake. If Aduhelm withdrawal is a wildcard prediction, so are some extremely bullish scenarios.
Bertrand Delsuc, founder of Biotellytics and a private biotech investor, named one: “The ClarityAD study of lecanemab meets all the main endpoints and proves the amyloid hypothesis real.”
In a similarly outlandish vein Juan Pedro Rodriguez Serrate, a buyside equity analyst at Ovata Capital, said: “Roche's ganterenumab gets approved and does better than Aduhelm.”
Mr Delsuc also cited the failure of Roche’s phase 3 Skyscraper-01 trial of Tecentriq plus its anti-Tigit MAb tiragolumab in lung cancer as a wildcard, along with Allogene’s whole Car-T platform being put in jeopardy by new clinical/manufacturing issues.
To an extent the latter has already happened. In true Christmas spirit, Mr Delsuc's advice regarding Vantage’s analysis of the Allogene clinical hold was to “print it, frame it, and place it on the office wall”.
Among other disappointments out of left field is all Jaks being pulled from the US market (this from a fund manager speaking on condition of anonymity), and Abbvie’s cystic fibrosis data underwhelming relative to Vertex, causing the latter to rally, from the private biotech investor Wilson Cheung.
Mr Cheung also said “Incyte gets acquired”, but cautioned not to take this too seriously.
Another private biotech investor, Michelle Sollender, suggested the wildcard possibility of US Congress holding a session to rein in Covid-19 vaccine prices, with the resulting industry backlash hitting purchase orders for future vaccine supply.
Fancy a new checkpoint?
Mr Rodriguez Serrate’s list continued with “some activity in obesity again ... some synthetic biology noise, [and] we get yet another fancy new immune checkpoint”, though to be fair some of these predictions don’t seem all that outlandish.
And Mr Loncar added: “Global Blood Therapeutics' new sickle cell disease pill nukes the commercial viability of the myriad gene therapy programmes out there.”
The “predictions” might be left-field, but perhaps we should remember that at the end of 2019 Mr Loncar forecast both the approval of Aduhelm and "a pandemic scare”.
Then again, maybe there’s no need to worry about anything. “I can hypothesise about wildcard scenarios,” one analyst told Vantage. “But if they are not likely then why bring them up?”
Vantage’s rather more serious look at industry trends and forecasts for 2022 is available as a free download.