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Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ONXX), Pfizer Inc. (PFE), And Kidney Cancer’s Top Bets

Despite this seemingly endless parade of advanced RCC treatments, there have also been some notable failures — perhaps none more fresh than AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVEO)implosion this past week. AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVEO)’s lead drug, Tivozanib, provided a statistically significant median PFS advantage over Nexavar in late-stage trials, but it failed to produce a median overall survival gain compared to Nexavar. That confusing stat prompted the FDA’s panel to vote 13-1 against recommending Tivozanib for approval. While not dead, it’s going to take at least another trial it seems to justify Tivozanib’s benefits.

What’s coming down the pipeline
Now that you have a better idea of the half-dozen important metastatic RCC treatments, let’s have a look at two other potentially game-changing treatments coming down the pipeline.

BMS-936558: This is an early stage clinical treatment from Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY) that is being targeted at a broad range of cancers, including advanced RCC. Most tumors, including those found in advanced RCC, overexpress the PD-L 1 ligand, which this compound helps to suppress. In early studies, 27% of RCC patients had at least a partial response to Bristol Myers Squibb Co. (NYSE:BMY)-936558, and a good two-thirds of those patients had durable responses lasting longer than a year.

Tivozanib: That’s right, call me crazy, but I think there’s a statistically significant PFS advantage to Tivozanib. However, AVEO will need to be extremely careful when it runs an additional late-stage trial with how it switches patients over from Nexavar to Tivozanib once their disease progresses if it hopes to gain a positive review from the FDA panel. I’d cautiously look for Tivozanib to make it back before the FDA panel sometime in 2015.

Your best investment
The good news for kidney cancer sufferers is that there’s a small army of late-stage treatments available that have proven successfully in extended patient quality of life. On the flipside, kidney cancer doesn’t have a lot going on in the pipeline beyond AVEO Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVEO)’s late-stage drug, meaning your best investment is likely to be found in an existing treatment.

From an investing perspective, while I like the steady growth I’ve seen from Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)’s Sutent, I prefer Onyx Pharmaceuticals with Nexavar. Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX) is right in the biotechnology acquisition sweet spot — being valued at $6.5 billion it’s neither too small to be untrusted nor too big for a slow-growth big pharmaceutical company to purchase. Onyx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:ONXX)’s additional drugs (Stivarga and Kyprolis) provide supplementary sources of revenue that make it an attractive option over the long term.

Stay tuned next week, when we tackle the current and upcoming therapies for the treatment of endometrial cancer in this “Tackling Cancer” series.

The article Tackling Cancer: Kidney Cancer’s Biggest Current and Upcoming Players originally appeared on and is written by Sean Williams.

Fool contributor Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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