CHICAGO (TheStreet) -- I spent a long weekend in chilly, rainy Chicago listening to endless cancer-drug data presentations at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting. Here are my flash impressions on the biotech and drug companies at this huge cancer conference, and whether they come out looking stronger or weaker.
ImmunoGen (IMGN): Stronger, because of the potential for IMGN583 to effectively treat a targeted segment of ovarian cancer patients. And because ImmunoGen owns 100% of the drug's rights.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY): Weaker, but just barely. Bristol-Myers still has more positive clinical data on checkpoint inhibitors than any of its competitors, but some of that data (Opdivo in non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer) was only "meh" and left room for others to gain ground. To its credit, the Opdivo data in liver cancer showed some of the strongest results I saw this weekend, although the commercial market opportunity there might be on the smallish side. I'm not sure anyone leaves ASCO this year convinced that one PD-1 or PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitor is better than the other, which blunts Bristol-Myers' first-mover advantage.
Merck (MRK): Stronger. The mixed match repair (MMR) biomarker data in colon cancer were impressive and provided a path for Keytruda to be effective in a tumor type not normally dented by checkpoint inhibitors.