For InterMune's pirfenidone, investors will likely focus on liver safety due to the previously reported, single case of Hy's Law in the ASCEND study. [It should be noted that pirfenidone is already approved in Europe, where the drug has been used in thousands of IPF patients with no significant liver-safety problems reported.]For Boehringer's nintedanib, diarrhea -- reported in 61.5% and 63.2% of patients across the two studies -- will be the key safety issue. Nintedanib is a VEGFR inhibitor, like Roche's Avastin, so another topic of discussion next week will be how pulmonologists -- the doctors who treat IPF patients -- will deal with side effects more commonly associated with cancer drugs, says Skorney.
I'll follow up next week with a comparison of the two IPF drugs, based on the new data we get at the ATS meeting.
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