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BeiGene Shares Tumble After Cancer Drug Challenge to Johnson & Johnson Misses Late-Stage Goals

BeiGene, a China-based biotech, said a key cancer treatment, and potential challenger to Johnson & Johnson's Imbruvica,failed to meet goals in a late-stage trial.

BeiGene Ltd  (BGNE) - Get BeiGene Ltd. Report shares slumped lower Monday after the drugmaker said a key cancer treatment, which analyst had pegged as a rival to Johnson & Johnson  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report, didn't meet goals in a late-stage trial

BeiGene, a China-based biotech with offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said results from a phase 3 trial for Zanubrutinib, a non-Hodgkin lymphoma treatment known as Brukinsa, failed to meet a threshold that would make it superior to Imbruvica, which is marketed by Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie Inc.  (ABBV) - Get AbbVie Inc. Report.

Brukinsa, which treats Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a specific form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, was set to challenge JNJ's $2.6 billion blockbuster. Switzerland's Roche dominates the market with its Rituxan treatment, which notched more than $5 billion in sales last year.

“WM is a devastating and incurable disease with significant morbidity. These meaningful results help us advance the understanding of the role of BTK specificity and off-target effects during treatment,” said Dr. Constantine S. Tam, principal investigator for the trial. “Despite not reaching the primary endpoint, 28.4% of zanubrutinib patients achieved VGPR as compared to 19.2% in the ibrutinib arm, and zanubrutinib had a more favorable safety profile, suggesting improved clinical benefit for zanubrutinib over standard BTKi therapy in the treatment of patients with WM.” 

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BeiGene shares were marked 3% lower in following the trial results to indicate an opening bell price of $151.07 each, a move that would trim the stock's six-month gain to around 50%.