The second ADC in the past year has crossed the finish line to be approved by the FDA. This time it is Roche's (Genentech) Kadcyla to be used in the treatment of HER2 positive breast cancers. The drug has performed in clinicals -- despite missing out on accelerated approval -- as it was widely expeced to be approved this time around.
"Kadcyla is an antibody-drug conjugate representing a completely new way to treat HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer, and it helped people in the EMILIA study live nearly six months longer," said Hal Barron, Roche's chief medical officer and head of global product development
Unfortunately, it is priced at $9800 per month per patient and is expected to cost about $94,000 for a single course of treatment -- about double its predeccessor (non-ADC) Herceptin alone. While I am excited to see ADCs make it to market --- and to be successful clinically. I do worry about pricing models that have most new biological drugs -- particularly in oncology areas --- costing a minimum of 6 figures per patient course.
On a happier economic note, Genetech (no doubt boosted by successes like Kadcyla) announced that it will be adding 600 new staff in the US. Just to put that into perspective, 600 staffers would easily handle the work of more than 30 average biotechs in pursuit of their first drug approval. Genentech says it prefers to promote from within, making a number of these new hires replacements for upward bound employees. And they pay well, with many of these positions tied to starting salaries that range from $70,000 to $80,000 a year. At least this company is hiring for more success as it experiences new successes. Huzzah! See Fierce Biotech.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Feb 23rd 2013
PS - There is no truth to the rumor that Kadcyla battled Xalkori to a draw over Tokyo for control of that fine metropolis.