CHICAGO (TheStreet) -- It's Monday, so we get to see how investors react to a full weekend's worth of cancer drug data presentations at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. Here's a smattering of sell-side commentary published this morning on the most popular topic at the ASCO meeting -- the new class of cancer immunotherapies known as checkpoint inhibitors under development by Bristol-Myers Squibb ( BMY), Merck ( MRK), Roche ( RHHBY) and AstraZeneca ( AZN), among others:
Early IO (immuno-oncology) data in additional cancers (head & neck, ovarian, and bladder) presented at ASCO over the weekend appear promising and suggest the market potential for IO agents should grow. Most investors model just melanoma and lung and renal cancers for IO agents (PD-1 and PD-L1), but now they will likely add billions of dollars of revenues to market models.
IO pie growing should more than offset concerns about therapeutic density. The growth in market opportunity due to adding add'l cancers should offset greater competition as additional companies move forward with similar drugs at rapid speed. Five companies could be on the market with PD-1/PD-L1 drugs within five years. We envision MRK launching first in late '14, followed by BMY in 2015, Roche in 2016, AstraZeneca in 2017, and possibly Merck KGaA in 2018.
Early IO data at ASCO that were encouraging included: 1) MRK's pembrolizumab (MK-3475) showed 20% (11/56) ORR in PD-L1+ advanced head & neck cancers; 2) Roche's MPDL3280A showed 43% (13/30) ORR at six weeks and 52% (13/25) at 12 weeks in PD-L1+ bladder cancer; 3) BMY/Ono's nivolumab showed 25% (2/8) ORR in platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.
Is there a clear winner in the immuno-oncology development race? ISI Group's Mark Schoenebaum doesn't think so yet: