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Small cell synergy

Why single-agent activity of Rova-T may not reflect its full potential

Investors and others watching data coming from the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting were quick to pan overall survival data from a Phase I study of single-agent Rova-T rovalpituzumab tesirine in recurrent small cell lung cancer. But AbbVie Inc. is expecting to extract value from the antibody-drug conjugate through combinations with chemotherapy and immunotherapies.

"Our strategy has been to demonstrate single agent activities first, then move into combinations, and so that's what we're doing with small cell," said Chairman and CEO Richard Gonzalez during AbbVie's R&D day on June 3.

Rova-T was the centerpiece of AbbVie's acquisition of Stemcentrx Inc. for $5.8 billion up front and up to $4 billion in milestones.

The first survival data, presented June 5, showed median overall survival (OS) that was more or less in line what is expected in the population when chemo is used.

AbbVie's shares tumbled $2.18 to $62.82 as the company shed $3.5 billion in market cap on Monday, the first trading day after the presentation. The pharma lost $6.5 billion on the week and ended Friday with a market cap of $98.7 billion.

Investors were likely sizing up the Rova-T data relative to new data from the Phase I/II CheckMate-032

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