GSK says more deals to come as oncology takes another blow

After coughing up $2bn for Bellus and paying $90m to license Scynexis’s antifungal, more deals are on the way from GSK, with chief executive Emma Walmsley telling journalists this morning to “expect more targeted business development” this year. Any moves are likely to be made in infectious diseases – including vaccines and HIV – and immunology/respiratory, where the group is increasingly focusing. GSK has all but admitted missing the boat in oncology, and revealed a further blow to those efforts in today's financial results. The group lost a case against Astrazeneca over Zejula that could see GSK pay out low single-digit royalties on sales of the cancer drug in the coming years, Evaluate Vantage understands. The spat centres on patent licence agreements that Zejula’s original developer, Tesaro, struck with Astra in 2012, and fighting its case dented GSK’s operating profits in the first quarter. A phase 3 trial testing Zejula in early-stage breast cancer was also terminated this month; coming after recent label restrictions for the Parp inhibitor class Zejula is increasingly looking like an expensive asset to support. True, it is not one of GSK's big growth drivers, but positive readouts from its development programme are needed.

Zejula: pending late-stage readouts 
Trial Setting  Readout
Ruby (ph3) Recurrent or primary advanced (stage III/IV) endometrial cancer; Zejula +/- Jemperli + chemo Part 1 toplined as positive, progressing to part 2 readout
First (ph3) 1L stage III/IV nonmucinous epithelial ovarian cancer; SOC +/- Zejula +/- Jemperli PCD Jul 2023
Zeal (ph3) 1L NSCLC maintenance; Zejula + Keytruda vs placebo + Keytruda PCD Dec 2024
Zest (ph3) Her2-ve BRCAm or triple-negative breast cancer, with ctDNA after definitive therapy; Zejula vs placebo Terminated after enrolment problems
PCD=primary completion date. Source: & company statements.

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