Seven (Minus 4, Plus 3) Agents to Fix Your Gaze On
By Rob Camp
Last year's pipeline report was warm, starry eyed and exuberant. How wrong can one guy be? Blow 1: The close of the year 2003 saw the "on-hold"-ing of SCH-C, the entry inhibitor that was moribund before the ink on the articles describing it was even dry. According to Schering-Plough, it will remain sidelined while SCH-D goes forward. And unless something more vicious than arrhythmia comes up with SCH-D, SCH-C is not expected to be resurrected.
Blow 2: Roche gave us the end-of-year blues, dropping T-1249 due to "viscosity issues." (It mysteriously became a lot more viscous after the disappointingly thin sales numbers for T-20: by the end of the year 2003, they were struggling to come up with proof of even 4,000 people on drug worldwide.) In order to dedicate more time and effort to selling T-20 (it wasn't getting ordered by itself; remember, two subcutaneous shots a day at $20,000+ a year), they ostensibly couldn't devote any additional resources to T-1249.
Blow 3. Blow 4. Both integrase inhibitors have been fossilized and won't be moving forward: The Glaxo/Shiniogi compound S-1360, greeted with much synergy fanfare last year, was formally announced gonzo. Glaxo is making sounds that they have other integrase in the wings, but there is nothing to report on yet. Merck has been the forward leader in plotting the integrase gene and understanding its être. They report no news on either of their two L- compounds (L-870,810 and L-870,812). Either they are restructuring their HIV division now that Dr. Emilio Emini has left, or one of the reasons that Emini left is that there was nothing exciting to move forward. "We'll have to wait and see" is how I ended last year's report. We're still doing so, at least with Merck.
So, of the seven drugs highlighted in TAG's summer 2003 pipeline report, four are dead in the water. Luckily, a new protégé of GSK (along with a previously obscure BMS compound) appeared out of virtually nowhere to cushion the pain. Next month's TAGline will feature a reluctant indulgence of the latest line-up of me-toos. Stay tuned.
Class of Compound
* Launch projections are not part of Rob's report but gleaned from industry reports. -- Mike Barr