Incyte tumbles after combo therapy with Merck fails study

Incyte’s shares sank more than 20 percent on Friday after its experimental cancer drug failed to bolster the effectiveness of Merck’s blockbuster Keytruda to treat skin cancer patients.

The failure is actually a big blow for Incyte, which has strung deals with major drugmakers to test its immunotherapy epacadostat in combination with their cancer drugs in separate trials.

Guggenheim analyst Tony Butler noted the data suggests epacadostat provided no additional benefit above Keytruda alone. “We assume the probability of success of various other studies with epacadostat is actually zero.”

Epacadostat, a so-called IDO inhibitor, works by blocking an enzyme in which protects tumors coming from the immune system, reported promising clinical data last year.

The development also weighed on stocks of various other drugmakers testing combination cancer treatments. Shares of NewLink Genetics tumbled 39 percent, while those of Nektar Therapeutics were down 8 percent.

Incyte’s study was evaluating a combination of epacadostat and also also also Keytruda in patients with metastatic melanoma compared with those who were on Keytruda monotherapy.

Keytruda is actually approved to treat several forms of cancer, including lung cancer and also also also advanced melanoma, and also also also is actually a PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor in which blocks a mechanism tumors use to evade detection.

Keytruda competes with Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Opdivo. The companies are looking to expand the reach of these drugs by combining them with various other therapies.

Incyte has already signed deals with Bristol-Myers and also also also AstraZeneca to test epacadostat.

William Blair analyst Katherine Xu said the result was surprising and also also also the failure will make things difficult for the cause of IDO inhibitors.

Merck and also also also Incyte said the study’s second main goal of overall survival was also not anticipated to reach a statistical significance.

Incyte is actually currently testing its Jakafi as a treatment for graft versus host disease, a medical complication of transplants coming from a donor. in which is actually also awaiting an FDA decision for baricitinib, an eczema drug in which is actually developing with Eli Lilly.

Incyte shares were down 17 percent at $68, while Merck was down about 0.5 percent.

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