Celgene Corporation (CELG) at ASCO: Ho-Hum, Ho-Hum, and Hmmm

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) was one of several companies presenting at the American Society of Clinical Oncology, or ASCO, annual meeting in Chicago this week. Here’s what the big biotech had to say.

Ho-hum for Abraxane
Findings from a phase 3 study of Abraxane in combination with gemcitabine in the treatment of advanced pancreatic cancer were presented on Sunday and Monday. The open-label study — known as the Metastatic Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma Clinical Trial, or MPACT — included 861 metastatic pancreatic cancer patients.

Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG)

The first key result discussed related to the first 257 patients in the study to be independently evaluated using positron emission tomography, or PET, scans. 63% of the patients taking Abraxane with gemcitabine had a metabolic response compared to 38% of patients taking gemcitabine alone. The patients in the Abraxane group also had a median overall survival rate of 10.5 months versus 8.3 months for patients taking only gemcitabine.

Another major finding centered on levels of a key tumor marker called carbohydrate antigen 19-9, or CA19-9. Of patients taking Abraxane and gemcitabine, 61% achieved at least a 20% reduction in CA19-9 compared to 44% of patients who took gemcitabine alone. For the subset of patients who experienced this reduction in CA19-9, the survival rate of those taking Abraxane with gemcitabine was 13.2 months, significantly higher than the 9.4 months for patients taking only gemcitabine.

All of this was definitely good news, but it wasn’t surprising news. Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) presented positive results from the MPACT study at another ASCO meeting in January.

Ho-hum for Pomalyst
Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ:CELG) received U.S. regulatory approval for Pomalyst in treating relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma on February 8. The findings presented this week at ASCO for Pomalyst, like those for Abraxane, didn’t catch anyone by surprise.

Updated data from the Pomalyst phase 3 study in treating multiple myeloma confirmed the strong findings initially presented in December. The most significant new information related to progression-free survival and overall survival rates. Celgene announced that patients taking Pomalyst with low-dose dexamethasone achieved a median progression-free survival rate of 4 months and a median overall survival rate of 12.7 months. This compared very favorably against the median progression-free survival rate of 1.9 months and median overall survival rate of 8.1 months attained by patients taking high-dose dexamethasone.